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EDITOR’S NOTE 


To the making of books about Dickens there is no end With the 
exception of Shakespeare there is probably no English author 
concerning whose life and work so many volumes have been written 
and compiled. From Forster’s historic “life” to Mr. G. K. 
Chesterton’s brilliant study, the list is a long and interesting one. 
Nor is there like to be an end. In the autumn of 1909 there appeared 
a volume devoted to Charles Dickens and his Friends , which, if it 
told us nothing now, at least brought within the compass of a 
single work much that was hitherto scattered, and scarce a month 
passes that does not bring news of some other addition to the ever 
growing store of Dickensiana. 

Every conceivable form of book has been associated with the 
name of Dickens. There are at least two Dickens “ Dictionaries/’ 
both with merits of their own, and both lacking in many respects ; 
there is the late Mr. Kitton’s admirable Dickensiana , more useful a» 
a finger-post than as a source of general information ; there is quite 
a little library of boc^ks devoted exclusively to the topography of 
the novels, such as Kitton’s Dickens Country , Fitzgerald’s Bozland , 
and Pemberton’s Dickens's London ; there are books on all aspects of 
the great novelist’s career ; brochures such as Lockwood’s Law and 
Lawyers of Pickwick , anthologies without number, books about his 
characters, and many “ lives” of varying values; to say nothing 
of the innumerable chapters in the autobiographic literature of 
the Victorian era, furnishing forth some memories or its foremost 
literary figure. 

In all this wealth of written words it might be thought the last 
had been said that remained to say concerning Charles Dickens ; 
but that is far from true, so fascinating is the study of this man’s 
personality, so rich In interest every feature of his wonderful oareer. 

The present work, however, makes no pretence to add to the 
knowledge of Dickens. In it wil) be found nothing new or strange ; 
yet, withal, the editor is hopeful that his labours may not bedeemed 
ill -spent, and it la surprising that a work of this kind has not earlier 
h 



11 


EDITOR’S NOTE. 


been attempted. It is designed to make available in handy form 
for the general reader an immense amount of miscellaneous 
matter to which none but students of Dickens, with a large and 
well-selected library, could have ready access. If the hand of 
Autolycus is hero and there to be observed, perhaps it will not be 
gainsaid that the unconsidered trifle is often of sufficient interest 
to be worth the picking up. 

The Dickens Companion is at once a work of reference and a 
book to read. Not to be read, it is true, in the same way as a 
continuous biography, but for dipping into at odd moments and 
choosing entries as the mood suggests. It will be found to provide 
an immense amount of interesting and curious information touching 
all phases of Dickens’s life and work, a large and representative 
number of books and periodicals having been laid under contribution 
for the anecdotal side of the work. In no other work has anything 
on quite these lines been attempted, and what we have here is, in 
effect, the cream of a whole library. In this way, though nothing 
fresh may be set forth, many new points of view are obtained by 
bringing together in new relationships old and half-forgotten facts, 
the thoughts and memories of the most diverse writers. 

But beyond the anecdotal interest of the present volume, it has a 
value as a work of reference which the editor may reasonably point 
out. A careful chronology of the life of Dickens is here included 
for the first time, and will doubtless prove useful to the reader 
whenever a question involving any incident in the life of the novelist 
is in point ; the synopses of the novels, together with the quoted 
descriptions of the various characters, is a feature likely to commend 
itself to all students, and not to be found on the lines here followed 
in any other work of reference ; the alphabetical list of characters, 
with references to the book or story in which they appear, is also 
likely to be of service, while a complete bibliography of the writings 
of Dickens needs no appraisement. 

In a word. The Dickens Companion , as its title indicates, is meant 
to be a companionable book, both for the general reader and the 
more serious student of the great Victorian novelist. That it is free 
from mistakes the editor will not assert ; that it is complete and 
definitive he makes no pretence ; but that reasonable care has been 
exercised to make it useful, instructive, and entertaining, he respect- 
fully submits. 


J. A. H. 



CONTENTS 


PAGE 

Editor’s Note ....... i 

List of Illustrations . . . . xi 

Key to Authorities Quoted .... xiii 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE AND CRITICISM 

I 

Boyhood and Youth 

In the blacking factory — Glimpses of the Promised Land 
— “ A terrible reader ” — His sweetheart- -No zest for 
games — Boyish compositions — Early gift for mimicry — 

As a reporter — His own recollections — Dickens’s first love 
— Pecuniary difficulties . . . . .3 


u 

In iiis Family Circle 

His mother — As a husband — Mrs. Charles Dickens — Delane’s 
advice — Story of an attachment — Love of children — 
Learning the polka — In the nursery — Father and daughter 
— Death of little Dora — His children — A keeper of Christ- 
mas — As host — A delightful dinner-party — A day at Gad’s 
Hill — Unexpected callers — The closing scene . .15 

iai 



IV 


CONTENTS. 


Ill 

His Literary Life 

PAGE 

Striking proof of his popularity — Rapidity of his success — 
Associations with Bentley — Association with Macrone — 
Methods of work — His accuracy — Favourite ink — Absorp- 
tion in his characters — The looking-glass — Gift for nomen- 
clature — His 44 bark ” and his “ bite ’’-—Puzzling the 
Quidnuncs — 44 Boz ” and blacking — 44 Boz ” and Boswell 
— Biblical allusions — Eton — Plagiarism and imitation- 
Characters classified — 44 Making allowances ” — Art of 
character-drawing — Sam Weller’s 44 originals ” — Other 
identifications — Portraits in Nicholas Nicklcby — A curious 
error — Blank verse for prose — Death of Little Nell — In 
quest of 44 copy ” — Domhey and Son — Bleak House — .4 
Tale of Two Cities — Great Expectations — Tom Tiddler s 
Ground — Edwin Drood — Attempts to solve the mystery — 

Mr. Fildes and the secret — The fatal watch— Original of 
Mr. Tope — Recovered writings — Dickens and the Daily 
News — John Dickens as chief reporter — Daily News 
Jubilee recollections— The lirst number — Dickens and 
Punch — As magazine editor— Dickens's 44 Young Men ” 

— Office relics — As a poet — Hymn of the Wiltshire 
Labourers — As a literary critic — Dickens and the writing 
of biography . . . . . .36 


IV 

On the Platform 

44 Took the country by storm ’’—Enthusiasm in London — 
Affection shown in the Provinces — 44 Astounding returns ” 
— Third tour — A private rehearsal — Aberdonian caution 
— A mistake at Birmingham— The English climate— Irish 
enthusiasm — A first night in Philadelphia — Farewell to 
New York — Financial returns in America — Platform ap- 
purtenances — Vividness of his impersonations — A com- 
pany in himself — Little Dorn bey and Toots — Farewell — 
Forster’s scruples overruled — How Dickens 44 killed 
himself ” — And why ? . 


85 



CONTENTS. 


v 


V 

Dickens and the Stage 

PAGE 

Tho carpenter’s lament — Love of the theatre — At the old 
Royalty — Mrs. Cowden-Clarke’s recollections — Eriergy 
at rehearsal — As Justice Shallow — The Doctor and La 
Fleur — Captain Bobadil — Flexible — Mr.. Snobbington — 

A Gamp-like character — Tho old lighthouse-man — As stage 
manager — The Queen and Dickens — “ A budding Con- 
greve ” — His “ day-dream ” — The stage in the novels— 

The novels on the stage — Nickleby and Oliver Twist — 

The Christmas Carol — The Cricket on the Hearth — Recollec- 
tions of u G. A. S.” — Edwin Brood — American dramatisa- 
tions— A friend of the actor . . . .97 


VI 

On his Travels 


In his best French ” — In a “ pink jail ” — Travelling letters — 
English a la Weller — A visit to Victor Hugo — Beaucourt- 
Mutuel — Tragic holiday incident — First visit to America 
— Well worth the Hogging — Coolness in peril — Advent- 
ure in a snowstorm — After twenty-five years — Anglo- 
American relations — As a pedestrian — Mistaken for a 
“smasher” — A slumming expedition — An impromptu 
hornpipe — “ The tables turned ” — Staplehurst railway 
accident . . . . . . .126 


VII 

On the Continent 

In Italy — Switzerland — Boulogne — Paris — Old-fashioned 

engravings — Continental popularity . . . 142 



VI 


CONTENTS. 


VIII 

Personal Characteristics 

PACE 

Punctuality and method — Seaside reveries — Dandyisms — 
Dickens’s beard — Popularity and the pin— “ Emperor of 
Cheerfulness” — His unfailing “ gaiete de coeur ” — 
Magical presence — Thackeray and Dickens : A contrast — 

“ TheChief ” — “ Pet ” theories— Powers of observation — 

A lover of cricket — An abstemious “ bibber ” — Teetotal- 
ism in fairyland — “ A grievous mistake” — Favourite books 
— At the Zoo — Dickens and Thackeray : more contrasts — 
Dickens and “ The UpperTen ” — Freedom from jealousy — 

Taste in home decoration— Vexed ! — Love of the “ Old 
Songs ” — As a counsellor — His generosity — Doing good 
by stealth — As a believer — Attitude to Nonconformity — • 
Views of spiritualism — Sense of the ugl v — And the beauti- 
ful — Appreciation of pictures — Love of flowers — On 
“materialism” in progress — As a speaker — His method 
of speech-making — His rule of life . . . . 149 


LX 

Among his Friends 

Forster: the “ Ilarbitrary Gent” — Thackeray: the Yates 
quarrel — The author of Rah and his Friends — Douglas 
Jerrold — Thomas Hood — Mark Lemon — John Leech — 
Daniel Maclise — Robert Browning — Martin Tupper — 
Edward FitzGerald — The Carlyles — Charles Whitehead 
— .James Payn — Georgo Augustus Sala— G. A. Storey — 

Mrs. Trollope — Samuel Carter Hail — Miss I^aura Fris- 
well — George Cruikshank — Hans Andersen — Julius May- 
bew — John Motley — Sir Joseph Crowe — Lord Daralay — 

Bret Harte — Disraeli — Landseer — George Dolby — A 
touching compliment-- His work for his brother authors 
— Guild of LiteratureandArt — Byron’sfluto — Mementoes. 173 



CONTENTS. 


vii 


X 

As a Social Reformer 

PAGE 

Mr. Fitzgerald’s summing up — On public executions — An Ad- 
ministrative reformer — A social reformer — Defence of the 
weak — The practical side of charity — A friend of the slum 
child — As educational reformer — A Corn Law reformer — 
Against slavery — Against “Stigginsism ” . . . 218 


XI 

His Homes and Haunts 

A general survey — His birthplace — No. 4 Gower Street North — 
Somers Town — The AdeHhi — Furnival’s Inn — Strand — 
Doughty Street -Elm Cottage, Petersham — Devonshire 
Terrace — Tavistock House — Fort House, Broadstairs — 
Folkestone — Boulogne — Genoa --Gad’s Hill — Rochester — 
Gravesend ...... 228 


XII 

Dickens’s London . . . 248 


XIII 

The Inns of Dickens 

The Boot — Bull Inn, Rochester — Fox under the Hill — George 
and Vulture — Golden Cross Hotel — King’s Head, Barnard 
Cast le — Old Leather Bottle, Cobharn — Magpie and Stump 
— Maypole Inn, Chigwoll — Red Lion, Whitehall — Sara- 
cen’s Head, Snow Hill — Saracen’s Head, To wees ter — Sol’s 
Arms — Spaniards — Two Brewers — Unicorn, , Bowes — 
White Hart — White Horse Cellars— Woods’ Hotel . 255 



VU1 


CONTENTS. 


NIV 

Scenes of the Novels and Stories 

PAOB 

The Dover Road — Portsmouth Road — Hertfordshire— 
Rochester — Pickwickian scenes — Pyrcroft House — 
Nicholas Nickleby and the Yorkshire schools — The Old 
Curiosity Shop — Eden — A Dombey landmark — David 
Copper field — Bleak House landmarks — Great Expecta- 
tions — Our Mutual Friend — George Silverman's Explana- 
tion — The Mitre and The Crozier .... 2G5 


XV 

DrcKENs in Contemporary Criticism 

General — Sketches by Boz — Pickwick —Oliver Twist — Nicholas 
Nickleby — Master Humphrey a Clock — Barnaby Rudge — 
American Notes — American Notes and Martin Chuzzhwit 
— Martin Chuzzlewit — A Christmas Carol — The Chimes - 
Battle of Life — Pictures from Italy — Dombey and Son 
— David Copper field — Bleak House — Hard Times — Little 
Dorrit — A Tale of Two Cities — Great Expectations — Our 
Mutual Friend — Edwin Drood .... 285 


XVI 


The Praise of Dickens 

Anthony Trollope — .Moncure D. Conway — Dean Hole — James 
Payn — Algernon Swinburne — W. S. Lilly — David Christie 
Murray — Robert Buchanan — George Gissing — Comyns 
Carr — Theodore Watts Dunton — Andrew Lang — Jerome 
K. Jerome — W. H. Helm — G. K. Chesterton — T. P. 
O’Connor — The childlike character of Dickens’s genius — 
Tributes in brief — A French appreciation . . 329 



CONTENTS. 


IX 


XVII 

Poetical Tributes and Memorial Verses 

PAGB 

Father Prout to “ Boz ” — Hon. Caroline Norton — Thomas Hood 
~W. W. G.-~ T. W. Talfourd — John Forster — James 
Ballantine — Leigh Hunt — F. J. Parmentier — “ Orpheus 
C. Kerr ” — E. J. Milliken — F. T. P. — Bret Harfce — Charles 
Kent — Richard Stoddart — Celia Crespi— Coulson Ker- 
nahan — W. Edwardes-Sprange — A. C. Swinburne . 349 


XVIII 

Miscellanea 

Dickens and Punch — Frith’s portrait of Dickens — The Maclise 
portrait — Mr. Williamson’s collection — Sales of Dickens 
— Dickens in French — V >pularity in Japan — Guildhall 
Library ....... 373 


GUIDE TO THE NOVELS 

Synopses of tiie Stories— Casts of Characters, with 
Quotations from Dickens — Alphabetical List of 
all Characters in all the Novels, Stories, and 
Sketches . . . . . .391 


CHRONOLOGY 

Complete Chronological Record of all Events of any 
Importance in the Life and Literary Career of 
Charles Dickens . ..... 585 


BIBLIOGRAPHY 

A Record of all the Principal and Miscellaneous 
Writings of Dickens arranged in Chronological 
Order ....... 595 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


PAGE 

Dickens at Nineteen, by Uwins . . . . .2 

Dickens at Twenty, by Alexander . . . .2 

Dickens in 1830 . ...... 6 

Dickens in 1838, by Lawrence . . . . 0 

Dickens in 1839, by Maclise . . . . .11 

John Dickens, Father of the Novelist . . . .10 

Mrs. John Dickens . . . . . .16 

John Dickens, Father of the Novelist, by Jackson . . 22 

Mrs. Charles Dickens in 1846, by Maclise . . .22 

Dickens in 1841, by D’Orsay . . . . .27 

Dickens, his Wife, and Sister in 1843, by Maclise . . 29 

Dickens in 1842, by Lane . , . . .32 

Dickens in 1844, by Gillies . . . . .32 

The Empty Chair at Gad’s Hill, by Fildes . , .35 

Dickens at Tavistock House, 1854, by Ward . . .39 

Dickens in 1856, by Scheffer . . , . .45 

Dickens in 1859, by Frit li . . . . .53 

Dickens in 1861, by Par kes . . . . . G7 

Facsimile of Dickens’s Handwriting . . . .73 

Dickens in 1802, from photo . . . . .81 

Dickens as a Public Reader, from photo . . .91 

Dickens in Every Man in Ills Humour , by Leslie . . 98 

Dickons as Sir Charles Coldstream, by Egg . . . 105 

Joseph Jefferson in The Cricket on the Hearth . . .Ill 

William Burton in D ambry and Son . . . .115 

Harry Miller in A Talc oj Two Cities . , . . 119 

Bijou Heron in Nicholas Nickleby .... 121 

Dickens in 1808, by Eytinge . . . . .135 

A French Caricature of Dickens .... 145 

Dickens in 1868, from photo . . . f . . 155 

Dickens in 1870, from photo ..... 169 

Dickens reading The Chimes , by Maclise . * . .190 

x\ 



Xll 


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 


PAGE 

Dickens’s Birthplace, by Bracldon .... 231 

Fort House, Broadstairs ..... 237 

Some of Dickens's London Homes — 

The House, Fumival’s Inn ..... 239 

No. 48 Doughty Street ..... 239 

Tavistock House ...... 239 

No. 5 Hyde Park Place ..... 239 

Gad’s Hill House, Rochester, by Braddon . . . 242 

Gad’s Hill House, from photo ..... 245 

No. 1 Devonshire Terrace, by Macliso . . . .245 

Pvrcroft House ....... 2G8 

44 Oliver Twist’s Window,” interior . . . .271 

44 Oliver Twist’s Window,” exterior .... 273 

44 Little Nell’s Cottage,” Shropshire .... 275 

Tong Church, Shropshire . . . . .276 

Interior of Tong Church . . . . .278 

Ancient Tombs in Tong Church . .... 281 

The Keep, Rochester Castle, by Braddon . . . 280 

Eastgate, Rochester, by Braddon .... 297 

Watt’s Charity, Rochester, by Braddon . . . 307 

“ An Re voir ! ” by Proctor ..... 352 

44 * Henry’ asking for more ” . . . . 372 

44 Sairey Gamp and Betsey Prig ” .... 374 

“ The Artful Dodger '* ...... 376 

44 The Political Tilly Slow boy” ..... 378 

44 Dombey and Son ” . . . . . 380 

Dickens’s Bookplate . . . . . .381 

44 A Scene from The Haunted Man ” . . 382 

44 Fagin’s Political School ” . . . . 384 

44 Bendizzy’s Ghost ” ...... 385 

4# The Political 4 Mrs. Gummidge ’ ” . . . 386 

44 Mr. Gl-dst-ne as 4 Pickwick ’ ” . . . , 3S8 

44 Lord D-rby as 4 Micawber ’ ” . . . . . 388 

44 Two of the World’s Greatest Women ”... 388 

Dickens at the Age of Fifty ..... 392 

Mrs. Charles Dickens ...... 586 

Dickens in 1861, by Lane ..... 596 



KEY TO AUTHORITIES QUOTED 


The following is a list of the principal works consulted by the editor 
in compiling The Dickens Companion. It represents no more than a 
small proportion of the sources drawn upon for the present work, as 
numerous quotations will be found throughout the text which bear 
direct acknowledgment of their source. The books in the list sub- 
joined are chiefly those which have been quoted from more than once, 
and in order to avoid repetition of acknowledgment are indicated by 
certain letters and numerals, to which a key for ready reference is 
here provided. Names of authors and publishers are also given wherever 
possible, so that the reader m;r> be able to refer to the original works for 
further information, if that be desired. 

A. The a Becketts of Punch. By A. W. a Beckett. London: 
Archibald Constable Co. 1003. 

B 1. Hans Christian Andersen : A Biography. By R. Xisbet 
Bain. London : Lawrence A BuPen. 1895. 

B 2. The Inner and Middle Temple. By Hugh H. L. Bellot. 
London: Methuen & Co. 190.8. 

B 3. Records and Reminiscences : Persona 1 and General. By Sir 
Francis C. Burnand. London: Methuen A Co. 1901. 

C 1. “ Recollections of Writers.** By Charles and Mary Cowden- 

Clarke. London : Sampson Low A Co. 1878. 

C 2. My Long Life. By Mary Cowden - Clarke. London : T. 
Fisher Unwin. 1890. 

C 3. Autobiography. By Moncure Daniel Conway. London: 
Cassell A Co. 1904. 

C 4. Celebrities and I. Bv Ilcnriette Corkran. London : 
Hutchinson A Co. 1902. 

C 5. Correspondence of J. L. Motley. Edited by George William 
Curtis. London : John Murray. 18^9. 

C 6. Reminiscences of Thirty- Five Years of my Life. By Sir 
Joseph Crowe. London : John Murray. 1895. 

D. Charles Dickens as I Knew Him: The Story of the Reading 
Tours in Great Britain and America. By George Dolby. 
London: T. Fisher Unwin. 18S4. New Edition. 1900. 



xiv KEY TO AUTHORITIES QUOTED. 

E. Literary Recollections and Sketches. By Francis Espinasse. 

London : Hodder & Stoughton. 1893. 

F 1. Yesterdays with Authors. By J. T. Fields. London : 

Sampson Low & Co. 1872. 

F 2. Life of Charles Dickens. By Percy Fitzgerald. London : 
Chat to & Wind us. 1905. 

F 3. Memoirs of an Author. By Percy Fitzgerald. London : 

Richard Bentley & Son. 1895. 

F 4. Bozland : Dickens's Places and People. By Percy Fitzgerald, 
London : Ward & Downey. 

F 5. In the Sixties and Seventies. By Laura Hain Friswell. 

London : Hutchinson & Co. 1905. 

F 6 & 7. My Autobiography and Reminiscences. By W. P. Frith, 
R.A. London: Macmillan & Co. 1887-8. 

F 8. Literary Eccentrics. By John Fyvic. London : Archibald 

Constable & Co. 1906. 

G. Bygone Years : Recollections. By the Hon. F. Levcson- 

Gower. London : John Murray. 1905. 

H 1. A Book of Memories. By S. C. Hall. London : Virtue & Co. 
H 2. Journalistic London. By Joseph Hatton. Londoti : Sampson 
Low & Co. 1882. , * 

H 3. Memories. By Dean Hole. London : Edwalfcl Afpold; * 1897. 
H 4. Charles Dickens : The Story of his life. By the Author of 
The Life of Thackeray . London : John Camden Hotten. 
1870. (Compiled, says Mr. Kitton, in Dickensiana , by 
the publisher from materials supplied by H. T. Taverner and 
others.) 

J 1. Novels and Novelists from Elizabeth to Victoria. By J. Cordy 
Jeaffreson. London : Hurst, & Blackett. 1858. 

J 2. A Book of Recollections. By J. Cordy Jeaffreson. London : 
Hurst & Blackett. 1894. 

J 3. Life and Remains of Douglas Jerrold. By W. Blanchard 
Jerrold. London : Kent & Co. 1859. 

J 4. The Life of George Cruikshank. By W. Blanchard Jerrold. 
London : Chat to & Wind us. 1883. 

K 1. Charles Dickens : His Life, Writings, and Personality. By 
Frederic G. Kitton. London : T. C. & E. 0. Jack. 1902. 

K 2. Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil, By Frederic G. Kitton. 
London, 1889. 

K 3. The Dickens Country. By Frederic G. Kitton. London : 
A. & C. Black. 

K 4. Dickensiana : A Bibliography of the Literature Relating to 
Charles Dickens and his Writings. By Frederic G. Kitton. 
London : George Red way. 1886. 

K 5. The Novels of Charles Dickens. By Frederio G. Kitton. 
London : Elliot Stock. 1897. 



KEY TO AUTHORITIES QUOTED. 


xv 


K 6. Charles Dickens as a Reader. By Charles Kent. London : 
Chapman & Hall. 1872. 

L 1. The Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens. By Robert 
Langton. Manchester : Published by the Author. 1883. 

L 2. Memories of Half a Century. By R. C. Lehmann. London : 
Smith, Elder & Co. 1908. 

L 3. Mrs. Lynn Linton : Her Life, Letters, and Opinions. By 
George Somes Layard. London : Methuen & Co. 1901. 

M 1. British Novelists and their Styles. Being a Critical Sketch of 
the History of British Prose Fiction. By David Masson, 
M.A. Cambridge : Macmillan & Co. 1859. 

M 2. Dickens’s London. By Francis Miltoun. London : Eveleigh 
Nash. 1904. 

M 3. Life of W. M. Thackeray. By Herman Merivale and Frank 
T. Marzials. London : Walter Scott. 1891. 

M 4. Through tho Long Day. By Charles Mackay. London : 

W. H. Allen & Co. 1887. 

M 5. Reminiscences. By Justin McCarthy. London : Chatto & 
Windus. 1899. 

0. William Blackwood and his Sons. By Mrs. Oiiphant. London : 
Win* Blackwood & Sons. 1897. 

P 1. Life *©f Bret Harte. By T. Edgar Pemberton. London : 

€. A. Person. 1903. 

P 2. Charles Dickens and the Stage. A Record of his Connection 
with the Drama as Playwright, Actor, and Critic. By 
T. Edgar Pemberton. With New Portraits in Character of 
Miss Jennie Lee, Mr. Irving, and Mr. Toole. London : 

George Red way. 1888. 

P 3. The Recollections and Reflections of J. xl. Planche. London : 
Tinsley Brothers. 1872. 

P 4. Some Literary Recollections. By James Payn. London : 
Smith, Elder & Co. 1884. 

P 5. The Story of a Lifetime. By Lady Priestley. London : 

Kegan Paul & Co. 1908. 

P 6. Life and Letters of Edgar Allan Poe. By John H. Ingram. 

London : Ward, Lock & Bowden. 1891. 

R 1. Tho Lifo and Times of Sydney Smith. Bv Stuart J. Reid. 

London : Sampson Low & Co. 1901. 

R 2. Fifty Years of Fleet Street. By Sir John R. Robinson. 
London : Macmillan & Co. 1904. 

S 1. The Speeches of Charles Dickens, 1841-1870. Edited and 
Prefaced by Richard Heme Shepherd. With a New Biblio- 
graphy Revised and Enlarged. London : Chatto & Windus. 
1884. 

S 2. The Life and Adventures of George Augustus Sala. London : 
Cassell k Co. 1896. 



xvi KEY TO AUTHORITIES QUOTED. 

S 3. The History of Punch. By M. H. Spielmann. London : 
Cassell & Co. 1895. 

S 4. London Letters. By G. W. Smalley. London : Macmillan 
& Co. 1890. 

S 5. Sketches from Memory. By G. A. Storey, R.A. London : 
Chatto & Windus. 1899. 

S 6 . Robert Browning. By William Sharp. London : \\ alter 

Scott. 1890. 

S 7. Literary Geography. By William Sharp. Pall Mall Publica- 
tions. 1904. 

W. The Real Dickens Land. By H. Snowden Ward and Catharine 
Weed Barnes Ward. 'London : Chapman & Hall. 1903. 

Y. Recollections and Experiences. By Edmund Yates. London: 
Richard Bentley & Son: 18S4. 



DICKENS IN ANECDOTE AND 
CRITICISM 





I 


BOYHOOD AND YOUTH 

The boyhood of Dickens belongs to the same region and the same 
surroundings as his last hours. He was born at Landport, in 
Portsea, where his father was living, in 1812 [Feb. 7], his 
father at the time being employed in the Dockyard at Portsmouth ; 
but it was in Chatham that he spent the years when he began to 
observe. Wandering among the ships there, he caught that love 
of nautical life which always : 'mained with him, and he picked 
up his first acquaintance with those seafaring and longshore men 
who stood for so many of his portraits. An even more important 
moment was that when he and his father stood together and looked 
at a house which was on a strip of the highest ground -between 
Rochester and Gravesend. The house was called Gad’s Hill Place. 
The father, observing the admiration with which the boy looked 
up at the house, made one of those commonplace and time-honoured 
observations of parents, to the effect that if the child would only 
work hard enough, he might one day live in some such house. 
The observation was probably forgotten by the elder as soon as 
it was uttered ; on the younger it made one of those ineffaceable 
impressions of childhood. It was that house which Dickens ulti- 
mately acquired [1856], and it was there he lived the best days of 
his later life. And it was there finally that, struck down pre- 
maturely to the unconsciousness and senselessness which is death’s 
prelude and intimation, he passed away [Juno 9, 1870]. 

He was but eleven when he left Chatham [for London], and 
by that time he had got the better part of all the education he 
over received. But a small collection of books was in an attic in 
the house where Dickens lived. In David Copper/idd , he tells the 
story of this room : 

“ From that blessed little room, Roderick Random , Peregrine 
Pickle , Humphrey Clinker , Tom Jones 9 The Vicar of Wakefidd 9 Don 
Quixote , Oil Bias , and Robinson Crusoe came out, a glorious host to 
keep me company.” 

One of the results of this reading was to inspire in the boy the 
first impulse to write. Ho wrote a tragedy, began to tell stories 
well off-hand, and acquired a small reputation as a singer of comic 
songs. He felt the hopes “ of growing up to bo a learned and 
distinguished man.” 

s 



4 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


In London [in 1823] the family had to go to a poorer house ; they 
took refuge in a mean, small house in Bayham Street, Camden 
Town, with a wretched little back garden abutting on a squalid 
court. Here Dickens was allowed to sink into a household drudge, 
running of errands, helping to nurse the children, — the family 
was of the abundance of the thriftless, — and polishing the boots of 
his father. They changed from Camden Town to 4 Gower Street 
North [where Mrs. Dickens attempted a “ Boarding Establishment 
for Young Ladies ”]. Everything in the house had to be sold or 
pawned to get food ; and poor little Dickens was made acquainted 
early with that dark and furtive resort of the poor, at once their 
Inferno and their Paradise — the pawn -office. In the end nothing 
was left of the furniture of the house except a few chairs, a kitchen 
table, and some beds. 

Dickens had a relative named James Lamert, manager of a 
blacking manufactory [Warren’s, in the Strand], and the child 
was given employment under him at a wage of six shillings a week. 
He was a small, sickly child ; lie was attacked by spasms at in- 
tervals. 

The two rooms in which his family were camping in Gower Street 
were too far off to go home for dinner, so it had to consist of a 
saveloy and a penny loaf ; sometimes of a fourpenny plate of 
beef from a cookshop ; sometimes of a plate of bread and cheese 
and a glass of beer from a miserable old public- house over the way. 
But it was the suffering of the soul that Dickens again and again 
dwells upon. 

“ My whole nature was so penetrated with the grief and humilia- 
tion of such considerations, that even now, famous and caressed 
and happy, I often forget in my dreams that I havo a dear wife 
and children, even that I am a man, and wander desperately back 
to that time of my life.” 

His father’s creditors refusing to accept the composition, the 
family were forced out of the encampment in Gower Street, and 
settled down in the Marshal sea Prison in the Borough. Now the 
boy was handed over to a reduced old lady in Little College Street, 
Camden Town, who took children in. He has given a picture of 
the time, the words of which still have t he power to bum them- 
selves into your soul, as the things they describe burnt themselves 
into the soul of Dickens. Here is the passage : 

“ I know I do not exaggerate unconsciously and unintentionally 
the scantiness of my resources and the difficulties of my life. \ 
know that if a shilling or so were given me by anyone I spent it in 
a dinner or a tea. I know that I worked from morning to night 
with common men and boys, a shabby child. 1 know that I tried, 
but ineffectually, not to anticipate my money, and to make it last 
theweek through by putting it away in a drawer I had in the counting 
house, wrapped into six little parcels, each paVeei containing the 
same amount, and labelled with a different day. I know that I 
have lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily 
fed, I know that, but for the mercy of God, I might easily have 



BOYHOOD AND YOUTH. 


o 


been, for any core that was taken of me, a little robber or a little 
vagabond. My rescue from this kind of existence I considered 
quite hopeless, and abandoned as such altogether, though I am 
solemnly convinced that I never, for one hour, was reconciled to 
it, or was otherwise than miserably unhappy. I felt keenly, how- 
ever, the being so cut off from my parents, my brothers, and sisters, 
and when my day’s work was done going home to such a miserable 
blank, and that , I thought, might be corrected. One Sunday night 
I remonstrated with my father on this head so pathetically, and 
with so many tears, that his kind nature gave way. He began to 
think that it was not quite right. I do believe he had never thought 
so before, or thought about it. It was the first remonstrance I 
had ever made about my lot, and perhaps it opened up a little more 
than I intended. A back attic was found for me at the house of 
an insolvent court agent, who lived in Lant Street, in the Borough, 
where Bob Sawyer lodged many years afterwards. A bed and 
bedding were sent over for me, and made up on the floor. The 
little window had a pleasant prospect of a timber yard, and when 
I took possession of my new abode I thought it was a paradise.” 

Release from this terrible life came through a quarrel between 
the father of Dickens and his employer. He was but twelve, and 
he was again sent to school. It was at the establishment of Mr. 
Jones, which stood at the comer of Granby Street and Hampstead 
Road, Here lie had some success with his pen among his school- 
fellows. He showed, too, that love of amateur theatricals which 
remained with him to the end of his life ; and he had so far out- 
grown the horrors of the blacking factory and of tho Prison that 
he had become a curly-headed, handsome lad, “ full of animal 
spirits, and always up to mischief.” Then he entered a solicitor’s 
office as a boy clerk. His father, at forty-five, had learned short- 
hand ; the son determined to follow the example, with the result 
that at nineteen he was able to enter the gallery of the House of 
Commons as a reporter for the True Sun . When he was twenty- 
four ho had begun Pickwick , and had become one of tho famous 
men of the hour, and one of the immortalities of literature. He 
was at that hour such a marvel of vitality and energy that people 
were attracted and even a bit dazzled and hypnotised by his look. 
u What a face to meet in a drawing-room ! ” exclaimed Iieigh 
Hunt. “ It has the life and soul in it of fifty human beings.” 
And from that hour onwards it was unbroken triumph. — T. P., 
in T.P'e Weekly, December 20, 1902. 

GLIMPSES OF TUB PROMISED LAND. 

As a u very queer small boy ” Charles Dickens used to walk up 
to Gad's Hill House — it stood on the summit of a high hill— -on 
holidays, or when his heart ached for “ a great treat.” He would 
stand and look at it ; for as a little fellow he had a wonderful liking 
and admiration for the house, and it was, to him, like no other 
house ho had ever seen. He would walk up and down before it 
with hia father, gazing at it with delight, ana the latter would tell 




BOYHOOD AND YOUTH. 


7 


him that perhaps if he worked hard, was industrious, and grew up to 
be a good man, he might some day come to live in that very house. 
His love for this place went through his whole life, and was with him 
until his death. He takes Mr. Pickwick and his friends from 
Rochester to Cobhara by the beautiful back road ; and I remember 
one day when wo were driving that way he showed me the exact 
spot where Mr. Winkle called out : “ Whoa, I have dropped my 
whip ! ” After his marriage ho took his wife for the honeymoon 
to a village called Chalk, between Gravesend and Rochester. — Miss 
Mamie Dickens, in the Ladies ’ Home Journal (Philadelphia) 

“A TERRIBLE READER.” 

Robert Langton, in his Childhood and Youth of Charles Dickens f 
chronicles the recollections of one who was a servant in the Dickens- 
family in Ordnance Terrace, and in the house on the Brook at 
Chatham. Mrs. Gibson, whose maiden name was Mary Weller, 
and who afterwards married Mr. Thomas Gibson, a shipwright, said : 

“ Little Charles was a terrible boy to read, and his custom was to 
sit with his book in his left hand, holding his wrist with his right 
hand, and constantly moving it up and down, and at the same 
time sucking his tongue. Sometimes Charles would come down- 
stairs and say to me, k Now, Mary, clear the kitchen, we are going 
to have such a game,’ and then George Stroughill would come in 
with his magic-lantern, and they would sing, recite, and perform 
parts of plays. Fanny and Charles often sang together at this- 
time, Fanny accompanying him on the pianoforte. Though a good 
and eager reader in these days (about 1810) he had certainly not 
been to school, but had been thoroughly well taught at home by 
his aunt and mother, and ” (added Mrs. Gibson, speaking of the 
latter) she was a dear, good mother, and a tine woman. A rather 
favourite piece for recitation by Charles at this time was 4 The 
Voice of the Sluggard,’ from Dr. Watts, and the iittle boy used to 
give it with great elTect, and with such action and such attitudes .” . . . 
Little Charles Dickens lived in Mrs. Gibson’s memory as “ a lively 
boy of a good, genial, open disposition, and not quarrelsome, as most 
children are at times.” 

In a note to Forster's Life of Charles Dickens, vol. i. p. 3, there is 
a portion of a letter dated (bid’s Hill, 24th September 1857, to this 
elTect : “ I feel much as I used to do when I was a small child a few 
miles oil, and Somebody (who, I wonder, and which w r ay did She go, 
when she died ?) hummed the Evening Hymn to me, and I cried 
on the pillow — either with the remorseful consciousness of having 
kicked Somebody else, or because still Somebody else had hurt my 
feelings in the course of the day.” Mr. Langton expresses little 
doubt that this singer of the Evening Hymn was Mrs. Gibson. Mrs. 
Mary Gibson died April 22, 1888, aged 84. 

HIS SWEETHEART. 

At Rochester he was placed imder the charge of a Baptist minister,, 
one Giles. In the playground ho had been recognised by his 



8 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


affianced one, Miss Green, “ second house in the terrace.” This 
schoolboy union he has often dwelt on. He later transferred its 
locale to Canterbury, in Copperfidd. There Miss Green appears 
again under a fresh name. Over thirty years later, grown-up and 
famous, he went down to the old place, and records his impressions 
in his touching little paper, Down at Dullborough. On his visit he 
recognised some familiar faces, and went to call on an old school- 
fellow — now a flourishing doctor — whom he found married to Lucy 
Green, with whom he dined. — F 2. 

NO ZEST FOR GAMES. 

According to his own account, Soutlisea did not contribute much 
to Dickens’s physical strength, neither indeed did Chatham ; for, he 
used to say, lie always was a puny, weak youngster, and never used 
to join in games with the same zest that other boys seemed to have. 
Ho never was remarkable, according to his own account, during his 
younger days, for anything but violent spasmodic attacks, which 
used to utterly prostrate him, and for indomitable energy in reading. 
Cricket, “ chevy,” top, marbles, ” peg in the ring,” “ tor,” “ three 
holes,” or any of the thousand and one boys’ games, had no charm 
for him, save such as lay in watching others play. — />. 

BOYISH COMPOSITIONS. 

Dickens was sent to Wellington House Academy, Granby Street, 
Hampstead Road, when he was about twelve. Ho and his fellow- 
pupils invented a lingo by adding a few letters of the same sound 
to every word, and, by using this gibberish, pretended to bo 
foreigners ; they also kept bees, white mice, and other living things 
clandestinely in their desks. Charles took to writing short tales, 
which he lent to his schoolfellows on payment of marbles and pieces 
of slate pencil ; and he and the other boys mounted small theatres 
with gorgeous scenery, the plays (such as The Miller and his Mm) 
being presented “ with much solemnity ” before a juvenile audience 
and in the presence of the ushers. It is affirmed that he did not 
particularly distinguish himself at school, for ho carried off no 
prizes. — K I. 

EARLY GIFT FOR MIMICRY. 

Mr. George Lear, a fellow-clerk of Dickens, at Ellis and Black* 
more’s [the attorneys, of Gray’s Inn], says that he recollected the 
novelist as being a mimic. 

44 He could imitate, in a manner that I have never heard equalled, 
the low population of the streets of London in all their varieties, 
and the popular singers of that day, whether comic or patriotic ; as 
to his acting, he could give us Shakespeare by the ten minutes, and 
imitate all the leading actors of that time. He told me ho had often 
taken parts in amateur theatricals before ho cafno to us. Having 
been in London for two years, I thought I knew something of town, 
but after a little talk with Dickens I found that I knew nothing. 
He knew it all from Bow to Brentford .”— K 2. 



BOYHOOD AND YOUTH. » 


A9 A REPORTER. 

In 1835, Dickens was one of the eighty or ninety reporters who 
occupied the press gallery in the old House of Commons. He 
reported the proceedings for several newspapers, becoming at last 
a representative of the London Morning Chronicle. He was then 
twenty- three years of age, filled with an almost superabundant 
energy, and throwing himself with eagerness into his daily work, 
so that he was regarded with great favour by his chiefs, both for 
his accuracy and for the speed with which he transcribed his notes. 
Long afterwards he said : “To the wholesome training of severe 
newspaper work when I was a very young man, I constantly refer 
my first success.” Presently, when the Evening Chronicle w r as 
established, Dickens was asked to furnish for its columns some 
sketches in addition to what lie contributed as a reporter. His 
salary was at the same time increased from five guineas to seven 
guineas per week. These sketches, of course, were those which in 
the following year were published in a small volume entitled 
Sketches by Boz . — Lyndon Orr, in The Bookman (New York, March 
1906). 

A large sheet [the Morning Chronicle ], w as started at this period 
of his life [1835], in which all the important speeches of Parliament 
were to be reported verbatim for future reference. Dickens was 
engaged on this gigantic journal. Mr. Stanley (afterwards Lord 
Derby) had spoken at great length on the condition of Ireland. It 
was a long and eloquent speech, occupying many hours in the de- 
livery. Eight reporters were sent to do the work. Each one was 
required to report three-quarters of an hour, then to retire, wTite 
out his portion, and to be succeeded by the next. Young Dickens 
was detailed to lead off with the first part. It also fell to his lot, 
when tho time came round, to report the closing portions of the 
speech. On Saturday the whole was given to the press, and Dickens 
ran down to the country for a .Sunday’s rest. Sunday morning had 
scarcely dawned, when his father, who w as a man of immense energy, 
made his appearance in his son’s sleeping-room. Mr. Stanley was so 
dissatisfied with what he found in print, except the beginning and 
end of his speech — just what Dickens had reported — that lie sent 
immediately to the office and obtained the sheets of those parts of 
the report. He there found tho name of the reporter, which, 
according to custom, was written on the margin. Then he re- 
quested that, the young man bearing the name of Dickens should be 
immediately sent for. Dickens’s father, all aglow with the prospect 
of probable promotion in the office, went immediately to his son’s 
stopping-placo in the country and brought him back to London. 
On telling the story, Dickens said: 

“ I remomber perfectly to this day the aspect of the room I was 
shown into, and the two persons in it, Mr. Stanley and his father. 
Both gentlemen were extremely kind to me, but I noted their 
evident surprise at the appearance of so young a man. While wo 
spoke together, I had taken a seat extended to me in the middle of 



10 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the room. Mr. Stanley told me lie wished to go over the whole 
speech and have it written out by me, and if I were ready he w r ould 
begin now. Where would I like to sit ? I told him I was very well 
where I was, and we could begin immediately. He tried to induce 
me to sit at a desk, but at that time in the House of Commons 
there was nothing but one’s knees to write upon, and I had formed 
the habit of doing my work that way. Without further pause ho 
began and went rapidly on, hour after hour, often becoming very 
much excited, and frequently bringing down his hand with great 
violence upon the desk near which he stood .” — F 1. 

ms o\Vn recollections. 

In a speech at the second annual dinner of the Newspaper Press 
Fund, on 20th May 1865, Dickens, in proposing the toast of the 
evening, made an interesting reference to his own work on the Press: 

“ I have pursued the calling of a reporter,” he said, “ under 
circumstances of which many of my brethren at home in England 
here, many of my modern successors, can form no adequate con- 
ception. I have often transcribed for the printer, from my short- 
hand notes, important public speeches in which the strictest accuracy 
was required and a mistake in which would have been to a young man 
severely compromising, writing on the palm of my hand, by the 
light of a dark lantern, in a post-chaise and four, galloping through 
a wild country, and through the dead of the night, at the then 
surprising rate of fifteen miles an hour. The very last time I was at 
Exeter, I strolled into the castle yard there to identify, for the 
amusement of a friend, the spot on w hich 1 once 4 took,’ as we used 
to call it, an election speech of my noble friend Lord Russell, in the 
midst of a lively fight maintained by all the vagabonds in that 
division of the county, and under such a pelting rain, that I remember 
two good-natured colleagues, who chanced to be at leisure, held a 
pocket-handkerchief over my note book, after the manner of a 
state canopy in an ecclesiastical procession. I have worn my knees 
by writing on them on the old back row r of the old gallery of the old 
House of Commons; and I have worn my feet by standing to 
write in a preposterous pen in the old House of Lords, where we 
used to be huddled together like so many sheep— kept in waiting, 
say, until the Woolsack might want restuffing. Returning home 
from exciting political meetings in the country to the waiting press 
in London, I do verily believe I have been upset in almost every 
description of vehicle known in this country. I have been, in my 
time, belated on miry byroads, towards the small hours, forty or 
fifty miles from London, in a wheel-less carriage, with exhausted 
horses and drunken postboys, and have got back in time for publica- 
tion, to be read with never-forgotten compliments by the fate Mr. 
Black, coming in the broadest of Scotch from the broadest of hearts 
I ever knew.’* — S 1. 

dickens’s first love. 

The Life of Charles Dickens was written in three large volumes 
by John Forster, but that much was left untold is evidenced by 




V 




%&■ 


ClUlU.KN DICK K NS IN J N>9 
After the jn/rt rail by Dan id Mucli$<\ It. A 


11 



12 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


many later writers. Very interesting, for example, are the facts 
given in a publication of the Bibliophile Society of Boston, dated 
1908, and entitled, “ Charles Dickens and Maria Beadnell : Private 
Correspondence. Edited by George Pierce Baker, Professor of 
English Literature in Harvard University. Printed for Members 
only.” 

At one time it was generally supposed that the Dora of David 
Copper field and the Flora of Little Dorr it were Mrs. Dickens (nee 
Hogarth). We know now that Dicker’s “ first love ” was Maria 
Beadnell. When the two first met, Dickens was a youth of eighteen. 
Maria was a little older. Dickens wrote to her, iX I can never love 
any human creature breathing but yourself.” Two years after* 
wards he was engaged to Catherine Hogarth, daughter of his friend 
and colleague, the musical critic of that name ; and twelve years 
afterwards Maria Beadnell married Henry Louis Winter. 

Maria Beadnell was the daughter of John Beadnell, manager 
for a firm of bankers, Smith, Payne, & Smith. Dickens was intro- 
duced to the family by his friend Henry Kollo, who married Anne 
Beadnell in May 1833, shortly after the letters here referred to were 
written. These five letters are apparently the ending of a happy 
intercourse of some months. In the first of them, dated only “ March 
18,” Dickens declares that their recent meetings have been “ little 
more thato so many displays of heartless indifference ” on her part, 
and he returns to her some present, which he says “ I have always 
prized, as I still do, far beyond anything I ever possessed.” The 
original of this letter was returned to Dickens, and it is printed from 
a copy retained by Miss Beadnell Of the other letters of this 
series, one is undated, the others are dated simply u Thursday,” 
“ Friday,” and “ Sunday,” but all were written within a few days. 
There was apparently never any engagement, but that Dickens was 
on familiar terms with the Beadnell family for three years or more 
is Bhown by a poem, 4t The Bill of Fare,” written in the autumn of 
1831. The manuscript of this, preserved by Miss Beadnell, is also 
printed in the volume. In it Dickens characterises his friends, 
including the Beadnells, and of himself says : 

if And Charles Dickens, who in our Feast plays a part, 

Is a young Summer Cabbage, without any heait ; - 
Not that he's heartless, but because, as folks say, 

He lost bis, twelve months ago from last May/' 

More than twenty years later, a new correspondence was lateen 
up, and twelve letters written to Mrs. Winter, in 1855, 1857, 1858, 
and 1862, are included in the volume. The first of these letters 
are full of thoughts of the past. In one, dated February 22, 1855, 
he says : 

“ A few days ago (just before Copper field) I began to write my 
Life, intending the manuscript to be found among my papers when 
its subject should be concluded. But as I began to approach within 
sight of that part of it [referring to his early love] I lost courage, 
and burned the rest.” 



BOYHOOD AND YOUTH. 


13 


But after he had seen Mrs. Winter, Dickens seemed to feel that 
the youthful romance was gone, and a different tone pervades the 
later letters. He gave her a copy of David Copperfidd inscribed 
“ Charles Dickens to Maria Winter. In remembrance of old times.” 

After ten years of marriage, Mrs. Winter wrote to Dickens, and 
received a warm response. He wrote : 

“ My entire devotion to you, and the wasted tenderness of those 
hard years, which I have ever since half -loved and half-dreaded 
to recall, made so deep an impression on me that I refer to it a habit 
of suppression which now belongs to me, which, I know, is no pari of 
my original nature, but which makes me chary of showing my affection 
even to my children except when they are very young. You are 
always the same in my remembrance. When you say you are 
toothless, fat, old, and ugly, which I do not believe, I fly away 
to the house in Lombard Street . . . and see you in a sort of rasp- 
berry-coloured dress, with a little black trimming at the top — black 
velvet, it seems to be made of — cut into Vandykes, an immense 
number of them, with my boyish heart pinned like a captured 
butterfly on every one of them.” 

When Dickens saw her ho was sorely disenchanted, and he was 
cruel enough to record the effect m his account of Arthur Clennam’s 
meeting with Flora: 

“ This is Flora. Flora, always tall, had grown to be very broad 
too, and short of breath, but that was not much. Flora, whoSi he 
left a lily, had become a peony, but that was not much. Flora, 
who had seemed enchanting in all she said and thought, was diffuse 
and silly : that was much. Flora, who had been spoiled and artless 
long ago, was determined to be spoiled and artless now. That was 
a fatal blow.” 

Maria Bcadncil scorned the young man who had such slight 
prospects in life. When she met him again he was famous and 
rich, while the man she had married w'as on the verge of ruin. He 
was indeed unhappy in his own married life, and, strange to say, 
Maria Beadnell was taken into the family confidence concerning 
his separation from his wife. But she w as never to become any- 
thing to him again . — The British Weekly of September 10 and 
November 12, 1908. 

PECUNIARY DIFFICULTIES. 

There was one schoolfellow of Dickens wito was an exception 
to the rest, because the connection was continued as he grew up. 
This wais one Thomas Mitton. They wore both law clerks together 
during Dickens’s struggling days, and when the tide of success 
came, Mitton, then a solicitor, was employed by him in bis various 
difficulties. The solicitor, however, had but a struggling existence, 
and was often assisted by his client. A large number of letters 
that passed between them have been preserved. A selection was 
published in tho Times in October 1883. From these papers we 
learned, that when “ Boz ” had captured a triumphant popularity, 
and was presumed to be “ coining money,” he was still harassed 



14 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and troubled by pecuniary difficulties. Some of these seem to have 
come from his own family. Fame brought with it additional cares 
for him. Attempts were made to make unauthorised use of his 
name in connection with pecuniary transactions, which caused him 
much inconvenience and annoyance. The attitude of Dickens 
at this time towards those who caused him much embarrassment 
did him great honour. It seems what is called “ hard lines,” and 
this noble, patient being must have all our sympathy .- ~F 2. 



II 


IN IIIS FAMILY CIRCLE 


Mu. “ Micawber ” Dickens is described as “ a well-built man, rather 
stout, of very active habits, a little pompous, and very proud (as 
well he might be) of his talented son. Ho dressed well, and wore 
a goodly bunch of seals suspended across his waistcoat from Ids 
watch-chain.” Readers* of Forster's Life of Dickens will recall how 
Dickens tried to settle his troublesome pater in Devonshire, and 
how enthusiastically he gloried in his acquisition. But Mr. Micawber 
did not see it, and returned to London. The place is described 
by Mrs. Nickleby, who hailed from Devonshire, in Nicholas Nicklehj 
(Part ir., Chapter xxiii.), “I don’t think,” wrote Dickens, “I 
ever saw so cheerful or pleasant a spot.” That unreasonable 
Micawber ! — The Bookman (New York), vol. ii. 

Mr. Dickens (the novelist’s father) appeared younger than his 
wife did, and was a plump, good-looking man, rather an “ old 
buck ” in dress, but with no resemblance to Micawber that I could 
detect ; no salient characteristics that could be twisted into any- 
thing so grotesque, except that he indulged occasionally in line 
sentiments and long- worded sentences, and seemed to take an 
airy, sunny-sided view of things in general. He avowed himself 
an optimist, and said he was like a cork — if he was pushed under 
water in one place, he always bobbed 44 up to time ” cheerfully in 
another, and felt none the worse for the dip. — Mrs. Eleanor Christian, 
in Bar , March 1888. 

HIS MOTHER. 

Dickens’s mother had a most sensible face, and in after years 
lie grew to resemble her greatly. She had a worn, deeply-lined face, 
evidently roughly ploughed bv 44 carking care ” ; but sue was very 
agreeable, and entered into youthful amusements with much 
enjoyment. His mother seemed to me to possess a good stock of 
common sense and a matter-of-fact manner : I detected one little 
weakness — a love of dancing. And, though she never indulged 
in it with any other partner than her son-in-law, or with some 
relation, Charles always looked as sulky as a bear the whole 
time.— Ibid. 


16 




MRS. JOHN DICKENS, MOTHER OF THE NOVELIST 

KN>. FATHER nb THE NOVELL?*! 

From a pencil drawing 

From a iMnicii draunno 


IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


17 


AS A HUSBAND. 

No biographer of Dickens can entirely avoid referring to the 
cause of the unhappiness which overshadowed the last few years of 
his marvellous career, and which startled the world at large as 
much as it grieved those who were near and dear to him. After 
twenty[-two] years of married life, Charles Dickens concluded that 
he and his wife — the mother of his children — were not made for each 
other. “ It is not only that she makes me uneasy and unhappy,” he 
explained, “ but that I make her so too — and much more so. Her 
temperament will not go with mine. It mattered not so much 
when we had only ourselves to consider, but reasons have been 
growing since which make it all but hopeless that we should even 
try and struggle on.” He claimed no immunity from blame. 
In 1858 Dickens and his wife mutually agreed to separate, the 
eldest son going to live with his mother at her express wish, and 
the other children remaining with their father . — K 1. 

One of the managers of the Morning Chronicle [1835] was Mr. 
George Hogarth, a Scotch gentleman of education and repute. 
It was Mr. Hogarth who made the arrangement for the sketches [by 

Boz ”] ; and he took so j>crsonal an interest in the young reporter 
as to invite him to his house, wuere Dickens presently became an 
intimate. Mr. Hogarth had two daughters. The elder, Miss Catherine 
Hogarth, was a lively, somewhat sentimental girl, and Dickens met 
her at the psychological moment. They became engaged, and were 
married in 1830. Mrs. Dickens was rather frivolous, somewhat 
feather-headed, exacting, unreasonable, and impulsive. But also, 
she was affectionate and well-meaning. So long as the young 
couplo were equally inexperienced and equally childish, they were 
very happy. But whereas Dickens himself necessarily grew up 
and became mature, his wife never did so, but remained always 
a rather doll-like piece of femininity, nearer akin f o a child than to a 
woman. She remained always, in fact, her husband's child-wife, 
and, in consequence, as the years went by, he became gradually* 
aware of a certain incompleteness in his existence on the domestic 
side. It was, however, not so much the attraction of another 
personality as the incompatibility between himself and Mrs. Dickens 
which led to a final break between them. This crisis was long 
foreshadowed ore it actually arrived. His secret discontent took 
the form of an extraordinary restlessness. He was unwilling to 
remain long in one place. He made frequent journeys to different 
parts of England and to the Continent, seeking perhaps, like his 
Horatian exemplar, to escape from the atracura which, nevertheless, 
dogged him everywhere. What he called in his letters “ an unhappy 
loss or want of something ” began finally to affect his Creative 
powers. It became less easy for him to write. He had to force 
the note continually. The old-time zest was beginning to disappear. 
Events soon brought about the logical results of such a state of mind. 
Ho separated from his wife, with whom his eldest son, Charles, 
thereafter made his homo. Amplo provision was made for Mrs, 
Dickens. — Lyndon Orr, in The Bookman (New York, March 1906). 



18 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


MRS. CHARLES DICKENS. 

Mrs. Charles Dickens was a pretty little woman, plump and 
fresh-coloured ; with the largo, heavy-lidded blue eyes so much 
admired by men. The nose was slightly retrousse the forehead good, 
mouth small, round, and red-lipped, with a genial, smiling expres- 
sion of countenance, notwithstanding the sleepy look of tho slow- 
moving eyes. Tho general opinion of mutual friends is embodied 
in the remarks of one who had every opportunity of knowing the 
real state of affairs with regard to his [Dickens's] domestic diffi- 
culties ; but I am not responsible for these opinions : 

“ I always pitied Mrs. Charles,” she said, “and believe she was 
less to bo blamed than others. Where she was wrong was in 
neglecting to assert herself in the beginning. She was indolent 
and easy-going, and allowed herself to be gradually ousted out of 
her proper place. It was hard to l>o repudiated for * unsuitability ’ 
by her husband, after being the mother of his ten children ; and to 
be deposed and banished from her home, while his esteem and con- 
fidence were transferred to her younger sister. She must have been 
a most amiable woman, free from all mean jealousy, to have homo 
so sweetly his preference for her sister Mary. From his own words 
one cannot doubt that his romantic love was given to her, and ho 
never hesitated to speak of her as his ideal in his wife's hearing. 
When sho died, ho kept her portrait in the place of honour in his 
study, and mourned as one who would not be comforted. It is a 
mistake to have relatives living in the house with a young married 
couple, and Mrs. Charles would have been wise to have taken warning 
by this sentimental episode, lake the old woman who lived in a 
shoe, Mrs. Charles had so many children she did not know what to 
do, so sho weakly allowed herself to be set aside, while a more 
energetic person managed her hou>chold and became counsellor 
and friend to her husband and children. There are two species of 
husbands difficult to live with, the genius and tho fool. Perhaps 
the chances of happiness are greater with the fool ! ” — Mrs. Eleanor 
Christian, in Ti-mfJe Bar, March 1888. 

delane’s advice. 

It had been obvious to those visiting at Tavistock Ifouso that, 
for some time, the relations between host and hostess had Warn 
somewhat strained ; but this state of affairs was generally ascribed 
to the irritability of tho literary temperament on Dickens’s part, 
and on Mrs. Dickens’s side to a little love of indolence and ease, 
such as, however provoking to their husbands, is not uncommon 
among middle-aged matrons with largo families. But it wavs never 
imagined that tho affair would assume the dimensions of a public 
scandal. 

Dickens, tho master of humour and pathos, the arch-corn pellor 
of tears and laughter, was in no sense an emotional man. Very far, 
indeed, was he from 44 wearing his heart upon his sleeve ” where 
his own affairs were concerned, though under Mr. Delane's advice 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


19 


he was induced to publish that most uncalled-for statement in 
Household Words regarding his separation, a step which, in the 
general estimation, did him more harm than the separation itself. 
He showed me this statement in proof, and young as I was, and 
fresh as was then our acquaintance, I felt so strongly that I ventured 
to express my feelings as to the inadvisability of its issue. Dickens 
said Forster and Lemon were of the same opinion — he quarrelled 
with Lemon and with Messrs. Bradbury & Evans for refusing to 
publish the statement in Punch, and never, I think, spoke to any of 
them again — but that he himself felt most strongly that it ought to 
appear ; that, on Forster’s suggestion, he had referred the matter 
to Mr. Delano, and by that gentleman’s decision he should abide. 

There can, I take it, be no doubt that, if the matter was referred to 
any jury composed of men ordinarily conversant with the world 
and society, the verdict returned would be a unanimous condemna- 
tion of the advice tendered to Dickens by Delano. 

The two leading personages in this little drama are dead, and I 
fail to see the necessity or expediency of recalling its various details. 
It is not for me to apportion blame or to mete out criticism. My 
inthnacy with Dickens, his kindness to me, my devotion to him, 
were such that my lips are sealed and my pen is paralysed aa 
regards circumstances which, if I felt less responsibility and less 
delicacy, I might be at liberty to state. As it is, I ain concerned 
with the man, and I shall content myself with remarking that it 
was fortunate for him that just at this time Dickens was opening 
up a new field of labour. To have concentrated his mind upon the 
writing of a book, amid all this “Sturm und Drang.” would have 
Wen impossible ; but into his public readings he could throw 
ail Ids energy, and temporarily forget his troubles. — 

[The only references to Dickens in Mr. Dasent’s Life of the great 
editor of the Times are two brief notes to the effect that Delane 
dined with Dickens on Oth May 1857, and was present with him at a 
“ very pleasant party ” at Lord Alfred Paget's on 17th February 
l Soft. J 


STORY OF AN ATTACHMENT. 

The London Tribune has come into the possession of some hitherto 
unpublished letters by Dickens, and has been printing them as a 
sort of epistolary serial. In these letters the names are suppressed, 
and a good deal is left to be inferred : y£t they have interest as 
uncovering an episode in the novelist’s life which has hitherto 
been concealed from the general public. It appears that Dickens 
in middle life conceived an attachment for a lady who was pre- 
sumably ignorant of the extent of his admiration. For a long 
time perhaps he himself was not aware how strong a hold upon him 
this now sentiment had secured. At last a friend of his, whom he 
had introduced to the lady, won her love, and the two became 
engaged. Dickens had not known anything about the affair; 
and when its culmination was announced to him in a letter* hia 



20 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


agitation was extreme. Writing soon after, he described his own 
emotion, and declared that his heart stopped beating at the news, 
and that he turned white to his very lips. His subsequent relations 
with the two were those of disinterested and unselfish friendship, 
or, at least, this is the inference from the letters already published. 
— Lyndon Orr, in The Bookman (New York), March 1906. 

dickens’s love of children. 

In the scattered reminiscences of Charles Dickens’s home life 
two notes are always touched upon with decision : his love of 
children, and his devotion to the celebration of ” old Christmas 
customs.” 

Dickens’s relations with children were ideal in character, and 
Miss Dickens recalled that he was a most kind, indulgent, and 
considerate father, always gentle to them about their small troubles 
and infantine terrors. She remembered how he would sing to 
them of an evening before bedtime, to their great delight, as, with 
one seated on his knee and the others grouped around, he would at 
their request go through no end of songs, mostly of a humorous 
kind, and laugh over them quite as much as his small listeners, 
enjoying them quite as much too. — K 1. 

Dickens loved his children, and was beloved by them in return. 
When his son Henry Fielding returned from Cambridge, having 
gained a scholarship of £50 a year at Trinity Hall, Dickens met 
him at the station and drove him to Gad’s Hill with their dogs 
bounding by the side of the trap. About half-way on the journey 
he suddenly put out his hand, and, grasping that of His son, with 
tears in his eyes said, “ God bless you, my boy.” — It 2. 

Dickens, between his two bright daughters, and he the 
brightest of the trio — his trim, well-made figure in motion ; his 
keen, ever-glancing face and laughing eyes : his gay, showy dress 
— velvet collar, red carnation (invariable as Mr. Chamberlain’s 
orchid) ; his showy, gleaming air, bringing light and quicksilver 
wherever he was; his gay, cheerful talk; hearty laugh; everything 
kept moving by him ; good-natured and kindly ; in all corners, 
«md bringing genial fun and frolic — what an amazing man this was ! 
And yet all the time one of the most famous men in England ! 
And his modesty and retirement — never obtruding, always wishful 
to listen and not to speak himself, to be second while others were 
first, to laugh and n#t to cause laughs. . . . Affection, good- 
humour, domestic enjoyments — these things were next his heart. 
So when he wrote the same qualities were displayed . — F 2. 

“ It was hero ” fat Boulogne in 1856], says his eldest daughter, 
“ that the Plom (his youngest child, then about four years of age) 
would be carried about in his father’s arms to admire the flowers, 
or, as he got older, trot along by his side. The remembrance of 
these two, hand in hand, the boy in his white frock and blue sash, 
walking down the avenue, always deep in conversation, is a memory 
inseparable from those summers at Boulogne.” — K 1, 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


21 


On one occasion, when Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, their children, and 
their few guests were sitting out of doors in the small garden in 
front of their Devonshire Terrace house, enjoying the toe warm 
evening, I recollect seeing one of his little sons draw Charles Dickens 
apart, and stand in eager talk with him, the setting sun full upon 
the child’s upturned face and lighting up the father’s, which looked 
smilingly down into it ; and when the important conference was 
over, the father returned to us, saying, “ The little fellow gave me 
so many excellent reasons why he should not go to bed so soon, 
that I yielded the point, and let him sit up half an hour later.” — C 1 . 

LEARNING THE TOLKA. 

When Miss Mary (“ Mamie ”) Dickens, the elder of the novelist’s 
two daughters, was eleven years old, wo are told that she and her 
sister (afterwards Mrs. Perugini) had taken great pains to teach their 
father the polka, that he might dance with them at their brother’s 
birthday festivity on Twelfth Night. In the middle of the previous 
night, as lie lay in bed, the fear had fallen on him suddenly that 
the step was forgotten, and there, in that wintry cold night, ne got 
out of bed to practise it. On rejection, £>ickens himself seems 
to have thought this characteristic of the intense earnestness with 
which he applied himself to his occupations and even his amuse- 
ments, for he said to Forster, in narrating the story, “ Remember 
that for my biography .” — Daily News , July 1896. 


IN THE NURSERY-. 

In the North American Review for May 1895, Mr. Charles Dickens, 
the younger, commenced his long-announced reminiscences of his 
illustrious father, which bear the title. Glimpses of Charles Dickens. 
The “glimpses” open with recollections of the great novelist at 
his house in Devonshire Terrace. They picture him sitting in a 
favourite rocking-chair which he had presumptively brought with 
him from the other side of the Atlantic, singing comic songs in the 
evening for the amusement of his children, among which ditties was 
“ The Loving Ballad of Lord Bateman, ”in which Dickens, Thackeray, 
and Cruikshank were supposed to have had each a hand ; besides the 
song of “ Guy Fawkes.” Dickens’s love of the society of children 
is also pleasingly shown in the details of his share with his friend 
Clarkson Stanfield, the Royal Academician, in the construction 
of a toy theatre, and the production of an original spectacular piece. 

“ This, I remember, was a spectacle called the Elephant of Siam 9 
and its production on a proper scale of splendour necessitated the 
designing and painting of several new scenes, which resulted in 
such a competition between my father and Stanfield that you would 
have thought their very existences depended on the mounting "of 
this same elephant. And oven after Stanfield had had enough of 
it, my father was still hard at work, and pegged away at the land* 
scapes and architecture of Siam with an amount of energy which in 
any other man would have been extraordinary, but which I soon 






22 


JOHN DK'KKNS, FATHER f»K THE NOVELIST Mll>. CHARLES DICKENS IN 18-16 

From an oil painting r>u John Jackson, HA. From a palntingby D. Maclisc, R.A. 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


23 


learned to look upon as quite natural in him. This particular form 
of dramatic fever wore itself out after the piece was produced, I 
remember, and the theatre — much to my delight, for I had hitherto 
had but little to do with it — found its way to the nursery, where 
in process of time a too realistic performance of The Miller and his 
Men , comprising an injudicious expenditure of gunpowder and 
red-fire, brought about the catastrophe which finishes the career 
of most theatres, and very nearly set fire to the house as well. This 
extraordinary, eager, restless energy, which first showed itself to 
mo in this small matter, was never absent from my father all 
through his life. Whatever he did he put his whole heart into, and 
did as well as $ver he could. Whether it was for work or for play, 
he was always in earnest. Painting the scenes for a toy theatre, 
dancing Sir Roger de Coverleyat a children's party, gravely learning 
the polka from his little daughters for a similar entertainment, 
walking, riding, picnicking, amateur acting, public reading, or the 
everyday hard work of his literary life— it was all one to him. 
Whatever lay nearest to his hand at the moment had to be done 
thoroughly.” — -Daily News , May 15, 1805. 

FATHER AND DAUGHTER. 

In the published letters of Charles Dickens, which were edited 
jointly by Miss Mary Dickens and her aunt, there are many allusions 
to the former, and some of the most interesting were addressed to 
his daughter while lie was away on his reading tours in the United 
Kingdom and America. It seems pretty clear from references in 
these letters that his dear “ Mamie,” or ” Mamey” (the ortho- 
graphy of Dickens’s nicknames does not appear to have been fixed), 
was of a somewhat delicate constitution. In 1854 Dickens was 
greatly alarmed by a serious illness she had. Writing to Wilkie 
Collins he tells how she apjveared at one time to be “ sinking fast,” 
and how, no doctor being available, lie had had to prescri ix> for her 
himself, and tend her in his “ great lonely house full of children.” 
Next we hoar of the young lady l>eing taken ill at a Volunteers' 
ball, u distinguishing herself,” as Dickens says to an old French 
friend of ins, ” by fainting away in the most inaccessible place in 
the whole structure, and being brought out horizontally by a file of 
volunteers, like some slain daughter of Albion they were carrying 
out into the street to rouse the indignant valour of the populace.” 
Again, we hoar shortly after this, that Mary is in raptures with the 
l>eauties of Dunkeld, but is not very well in health. The daughter 
was well enough, however, to preside over her father's household, 
and any difficult or delicate matters connected with it were in- 
variably left to her judgment, in which Dickens had the fullest 
confidence. “ My eldest daughter Mary,” he says, writing in 1858 
[ the year in which ho separated from his wife], 44 keeps house with 
a state and gravity becoming that high position, wherein she is 
assisted by her sister Katie, who is, and has always been, liko 
another sister.'* In another letter, he remarks : 44 My eldest 

daughter is a capital housekeeper, heads the table gracefully, dele- 



24 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


gates certain appropriate duties to her sister and her aunt, and 
they are all three devotedly attached.” At this period Miss Dickens 
was rather pleasing and intelligent-looking than pretty. The 
father, however, thought that both his daughters were “ very pretty,” 
and he expresses surprise that the elder one has not "yet (I860) 
started “ any conveyance on the road to matrimony.” Nine years 
later we find him speculating as to what he would do if he lost his 
trusty housekeeper. 4 4 1 often think,” he says, “ that if Mary were 
to marry (which she won’t) I should sell Gad's Hill and go genteelly 
vagabondising over the face of the earth.” The event which Dickens 
thus half hoped for, half dreaded, never came about, and his elder 
daughter died Unmarried [in July 1896 ], — Daily News, July 1896. 

DEATH OF LITTLE DORA. 

An interesting communication which comes to me [“ A Man 
of Kent,” in the British Weekly, June 10, 1900], from an American 
source relates to the death of Dickens's third daughter, who 
was bom in August 1850. and given the name of Dora Annie. 
Early in 1851 both Mrs. Dickens and the infant were stricken with 
illness. The child apparently recovered, but Mrs. Dickens was 
still unwell, and it was decided that she should go in March for 
a holiday at Great Malvern. She was accompanied by her sister, 
while Dickens remained in London with the children. On Monday. 
April 13, Dickens was making a sjicech at a dinner, and was told 
when he left the chair that his child had died in a moment. John 
Forster proceeded next morning to Malvern to fetch Mrs. Dickens 
home, and he took with him the following letter, along with a 
prayer : 

Devonshire Terrace, 
Tuesday mnrniwj , A t )ril 14, 1851. 

u My Dearest K ate, — Now observe, you must read this letter very 
slowly and carefully.. If you have hurried on thus far without quite 
understanding (apprehending some bad news) l rely on your turning 
back and reading again. Little Dora, without being in t he least pain, 
is suddenly stricken ill. There is nothing in her appearance but 
perfect rest — you would suppose her quietly asleep — but 1 am sun; 
she is very ill, and I cannot encourage myself with much hope of 
her recovery. I do not (and why should I say 1 do to you, my dear ?) 
— I do not think her recovery at all likely. J do not like to leave 
home. I can do no good here, but I think it right to stay. You 
will not like to be away, I know, and I cannot reconcile it to myself 
to keep you away, horster, with his usual affection for us, comes 
down to bring you this letter, and to bring you home, but I cannot 
close it without putting the strongest entreaty and injunction upon 
you to come with perfect composure — to remember what I have 
often told you, that we never can expect to be exempt, as to our 
many children, from the afflictions of other parents, and that if — 
if when you come I should even have to say to you, 14 Our little 
baby is dead,” you are to do your duty to the rest, and to show 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


25 


^yourself worthy of the great trust you hold in them. If you will 
only read this steadily I have a perfect confidence in your doing: 
what is right. — Ever affectionately, 

(Signed) “Charles Dickens/' 

AS GRANDFATHER. 

Gad’s Hill Place was frequently brightened by the presence of his 
eldest son’s children, and writing to Miss Milner Gibson on December 
22, 1866, the novelist said: “ I can never imagine myself a grand- 
father of four. That objectionable relationship is never permitted 
to be mentioned in my presence. I make the mites suppose that 
my lawful name is ‘ Wenerables,’ which they piously believe.” 
And “ Wenerables ” they called him, much to the amusement of his 
guests . — K 1. 

THE NUMBER OF HIS CHILDREN. 

Dickens the father had eight children ; “ Roz ” himself ten ; 
while his father-in-law, George Hogarth, had fourteen. Add to 
these cousins, such as the Barrows; brothers-in-law, Austins and 
Burnetts; schoolfellows, like Mitton ; comrades, companions, such 
as Kobe ; and we have a formidable crowd encompassing the brilliant 
young author, with some, at least, burdening him. An amusing 
story has often been repeated of the redoubtable Forster’s correct- 
ing his friend, who had spoken of his ten children. “ Nine, my 
dear 1 )ickens — vou have only nine.” u Ten ; and I think I ought 
to know.” “ Ikardon me, my dear Dickens, only nine.” T he- 
ron fusion, I fancy, arose from the little girl Dora, who died when 
only a year old. It is hard to understand what Dickens intended 
in the selection of names for his male children : Walter Landor, 
Francis Jeffrey, Alfred Tennyson, Sydney Smith, Henry Fielding, 
Edward Bulvver Lytton. In the admirable article on Dickens by 
the late Italic Stephen there is a strange mistake. Enumerating 
u Roz's ” ton children, ho altogether omits Charles the younger. — 
F 2, 


A KEEPER OF CHRISTMAS. 

That Dickens thoroughly appreciated not only the religious 
aspect of Christ mas tide, but also cordially approved of the social 
festivities which mark that joyous season, is evidenced in his own 
observance of them. No man entered more heartily into the spirit 
of fun and frolic which characterised what is now usually termed 
the “ old-fashioned Christmas.” 44 Such dinings, such dancings* 
such conjurings, such blind-man-bufKngs, such theatre -goings, such 
kissings-out of old years and kissings-in of new ones, never took 
place in these parts before.” Thus**iin a sprightly note, be referred 
to the particular Yuletide which brought forth the Carol . “ If 
you could have seen me,” he wrote to a friend at this date* “ at 
a children’s party at Macready’s the other night, going down a 
country dance with Mrs. M., you would have thought I was a 
country gentleman of independent property, residing on a tip-toj> 



26 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


farm with the wind blowing straight in my face every day.” The* 
occasion was a birthday celebration of one of Macready’s children, 
and, in a letter to the famous actor himself, he described how he 
and Forster amused the juvenile guests with wonderful conjuring 
tricks . — K 1. 

AS HOST. 

In very many of my father's books there are frequent references 
to delicious meals, wonderful dinners, and more marvellous dishes, 
steaming bowls of punch, etc., which have led many to believe 
that ho was a man very fond of the table. And yet I think no more 
abstemious man ever lived. In the “Gad's Hill ” days, when the house 
was full of visitors, he had a peculiar notion of always having the 
menu for the day’s dinner placed on the sideboard at luncheon- 
time. And then he would discuss every item in his fanciful humorous 
way with his guests, much to this effect : “ Oock-a-leekie ? Good, 
decidedly good. Fried soles with shrimp sauce ? Good again. 
Croquettes of chicken ? Weak, very weak ; decided want of 
imagination here,” and so on ; and he would apparently be so 
taken up with the merits or demerits of a menu that one might 
imagine he lived for nothing but the coming dinner. He had a 
small but healthy appetite, but was remarkably abstemious both in 
eating and drinking. He was delightful as a host, caring individually 
for each guest, and bringing the special qualities of each into full 
notice and prominence, putting the very shyest at his or her ease, 
making the best of the most humdrum, and never thrusting himself 
forward. But when he was most delightful was alone with us at 
home and sitting over dessert, and when my sister wa:s with us 
especially — I am talking now of our grown-up days — for she had 
great power in u drawing him out.” At such times they would 
discuss mesmerism and other magnetic subjects. One illustration 
I remember his using was, that meeting someone in the busy London 
streets, he was on the point of turning back to accost the supposed 
friend, when, finding out his mistake in time, he walked on again 
until he actually met the real friend, whose shadow, as it were, 
but a moment ago had come across his path. — Miss Mamie Dickens, 
in Ladies' Home Journal (Philadelphia). 

A peculiarity of the household was the fact that, except at table, 
no servant was ever seen about. This was because the requirements 
of life were always ready to hand, especially in the bed rooms. Each 
of these rooms contained the most comfortable of beds, a sofa and 
easy-chair, cane-bottomed chairs, — in which Dickens had a great 
belief, always preferring to use one himself, — a large-sized writing- 
table, profusely supplied with envelopes of every conceivable 
size ana description, and an almost daily change of new quill pens. 
There was a miniature library of books in each room, a comfortable 
fire in winter, with a shining copper kettle in each fireplace ; and on 
the side-table, cups, saucers, tea-caddy, teapot, sugar, and milk, so 
that this refreshing beverage was always attainable, without even 
the trouble of asking for it. — A 




28 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


At Gad’s Hill he (Dickens) lived in good style. Nevertheless, his 
tastes were simple. There was no pretension about him, not a 
suggestion of it. He was an infinitely witty talker, and full of 
anecdote concerning people he had met and places he had seen. 
At Gad’s Hill there was no sitting by the men at table for a while 
ufter the ladies had left. A few minutes after the ladie3 had gone 
Dickens would be on his feet leading the way to the drawing-room. 
In his kind-heartedness he was very thoughtful of his guests, no 
matter wdio they might be. — Mr. Frederio Chapman, interviewed 
in the Daily Chronicle , June 25, 1892. 

A DELIGHTFUL DINNER-PARTY. 

I was at Gad’s Hill for one or two Christmases — not on Christmas 
Day, but shortly after. I remember coming down with him in the 
train, with his son-in-law, the faithful henchman Dolby, and some 
others. We walked up from the station ; there was a crisp layer 
of snow over the fair Kent country ; the air was fresh ; there was 
a grey ::cJ£-tint over everything, and we could see the red light at 
Gad’s Hill afar off, twinkling through the trees. The only incident 
of the walk that comes back upon me was that Dolby, who was of 
rather a brusque, rough nature, tagan to talk of someone having 
been “ bashed” by someone else. “ Boz” caught the then rather 
unusual word, and began to ask for a literal explanation. Any- 
thing of this sort interested him. His sister-in-law had walked 
dowm to meet us ; and so had the dogs. That night there was to 
be a dinner-party, and various neighbours — some from a distance 
— were to come in the evening. There was that agreeable sense 
of something exciting, which is so pleasant for a guest in a country 
house. That night our host was to give us an experimental trial 
of one of his newest pieces from the readings, and he was anxious 
to try the effect upon a rural audience. I was looking from the 
window out on the wide, low-lying country, all white with tho 
snow, and could see a carriage or two — a couple of black patches 
moving along the road — far off. I thought of the “ moated grange ” 
pictures. Here it was exactly ; “ Guests arriving for the Christmas 
party.” They, in their turn, had their eyes on his cheerful red 
curtains, illuminated from within, and giving promise of the snug 
blazing fires, and logs, and maybe a comforting glass. One of these 
vehicles was the Vicar’s, Mr. Hindle’s. There was also the doctor, 
I think; then tenants of the nearest tall house, and so on. But 
the snow kept some away. 

A delightful dinner-party it was. How many are gone now ! 
I was beside the interesting daughter of the house — the attractive 
“ Mamie,” as she was called — who has herself written some most 
pleasing records of these joyous days. She had great personal 
attractions, and much of her father’s observation, with a pleasant 
wit of her own and a certain piquancy of manner. I always 
admired her indomitable spirit ana independence. After dinner 
we gathered in tho cosy drawing-room, which our host had added 
to the old house. The retainers came in, and “ Boz ” took his stand 






it 


\ 


CHAHLK.S DICKENS, HIS WIKE, AND SISTKW IN 1843 
From the pewit drawing by D* Maclise , K.A. 





30 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


at the desk, and began to read The Boy at Mugby, a keen and amus- 
ing bit of satire on the then system of railway refreshment and on 
the haughty damsels who presided and zealously served out stale 
sandwiches and scalding coffee. He presented sketches of their 
ways and doings in very amusing fashion. But, I remember, his 
friend Forster, who was never very favourable to the readings, did 
not quite approve of the topic. I fancy the subject was found too 
local and special for general interest — and “ Boz” made very little use 
of it in his professional readings. 

A gay and hilarious night followed. The desk and apparatus 
was cleared away, and there was proposed a series of amusing 
games. Not a round game, as at Dingley Dell, but a very remark- 
able exercise of the wits, which affected one very much as would 
the performance of a clever, perplexing conjuror. “Boz” himself 
was, of course, the central figure. He illuminated all with his quick, 
lightning flashes and perpetual buoyancy . — F 2. 

A DAY AT gad’s HILL. 

Life at Gad’s Hill for visitors, I speak from experience, w T as de- 
lightful. You breakfasted at nine, smoked your cigar, read the 
papers, and pottered about the garden until luncheon at one. Ail 
the morning Dickens was at work, either in the study — a room on 
the right hand of the porch as you entered : a large room, entirely 
lined with books, and with a fine bay-window, in which the desk 
was placed 1 — or in the Chalet, a Swiss house of four rooms, pre- 
sented to him by Fechter, which took to pieces, and was erected 
in a shrubbery on the side of the road opposite to the house, where 
he had a fine view extending to the river. After luncheon (a sub- 
stantial meal, though Dickens generally took little but bread and 
cheese and a glass of ale) the party would assemble in the hall, 
which was hung round with a capital set of Hogarth prints, and 
settle on their njlans. Some walked, somo drove, some pottered ; 
there was Rochester Cathedral to be visited, the ruins of the Castle 
to be explored, Cobham Park (keys for which had been granted 
by Lord Damley) in all its sylvan beauty within easy distance. 1, 
of course, elected to walk with Dickens ; and off we set, with such of 
the other guests as chose to face the ordeal. They were not many, 
and they seldom camo twice ; for the distance traversed was 
seldom less than twelve miles, and the pace was good throughout. 

Generally accompanied by his dogs, Dickens w r ould go along at 
a swinging pace : sometimes over the marshes famous in Great 
Expectations ; sometimes along a hilly, tramp-infested road to 
Gravesend, skirting Cobham Park, and past The Leather Bottle, 
whither Mr. Tupman retired ; past Fort Pitt, near which Dr. Slammer 
proposed to take Mr. Winkle’s life ; down miry lanes and over 
vast stubble-fields, to outlying little churches, and frequently to 

1 Originally the “Bachelor Bedroom,” and under that title most 
humorously described, with its various tenants, by Wilkie Collins in 
Household Words . 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE; 


31 


a quaint old almshouse standing, I cannot remember where, in a 
green courtyard, like an Oxford “ quad.” With small difficulty, 
if the subject were deftly introduced, he could be induced to talk 
about his books, to tell how and why certain ideas occurred to him, 
and how he got such and such a scene or character. Generally his 
excellent memory accurately retained his own phrases and actual 
words, so that he would at once correct a misquotation. — F. 

UNEXPECTED CALLERS. 

Not many brighter summer days could have shone than the one 
on which I first saw Charles Dickens. At the point now crossed 
by the Finsbury Park railway bridge, stood a group of four or five 
gentlemen. One, hat off to get the breeze, and stamping his foot, 
was exercising his power as a raconteur . Another, noticeable for his 
bushy hair and white trousers, strapped over his boots, appeared 
consumedly tickled. His clear and ringing laugh reached us dis- 
tinctly across the dusty roadway. As we [my father and I] walked 
on I learned that he was Charles Dickens, the elfin-like little man 
with the ashen locks, Douglas Jerrold. Dickens, whose peal of 
laughter was never to be forgotten, on that radiant day of sunshine 
grew a familiar figure ! 1 saw him act, I heard him read, and he 

often passed mo in the highways and byways of the metropolis. 
In the mid-sixties I not only again beheld him in the flesh, but 
conversed with him. It was at his beautiful home, Gad's Hill. 

Extremely fond of rambling in the country to places associated 
with history and genius at the period mentioned, I persuaded a 
couple of acquaintances [one was William Jeffery Prowse, a 
brilliant contributor to the Daily Telegraph ; and the other a 
young schoolmaster] to join me on a walking journey through 
Kent. 

On the third day after leaving London we found ourselves at the 
Falstaff Inn, hard by Gild's Hill Place. One idea had constantly 
cropped up while we watched the fields and warm green hills repos- 
ing in the sunshine. Was there any possibility of seeing the novelist, 
taking off our hats, and pressing his hand ? To the best of the 
host's lielief Mr. Dickens was at home. We further learned ho was 
everybody's favourite. Wo strolled again. A project seized us. 
A brief interval at the inn, and a note was written. The words were 
as follows : “ Three admirers of the genius of Charles Dickens 
desire to pay their devout regards to him.” Then followed our 
signatures. 

“ Is there any answer, sir ? ” inquired the servant, taking the 
note. “ If you please.” In two or three minutes the young 
woman reappeared and said, “ Mr. Dickens will see you when he 
has finished writing a letter.” Our impulse was to cheer, but feeling 
took no more demonstrative form than shaking each other's hands* 
Ah ! it was something if only to look at the outside of Gad's Hill. 
It was from its quietude a fit homo for tho prose poet of huge, 
roaring London. Tho silence around was only broken by the 
chirping and whistling birds. 







IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. “ 


33 


We heard a footfall behind the open hall door, and Charles Dickens 
lightly came down its four steps to the grass where we stood. He 
wore a grey tweed suit and round bowler hat, and gave us with open 
hand a greeting buoyant as his gait : “I am glad to see you ; come 
to taste our Kentish air ? ” Soon, with a quite magical insight, 
he appeared to divine our pleasant freedom for a few days from 
London smoko and labour, and certainly appreciated the unaffected 
homage we modestly tendered. His keen, alert eyes shone with 
pleasure when one of the little party thanked him for an intro- 
duction to people who had become abiding personal friends, among 
whom were Betsey Trotwood, Sir Leicester JDedlock, Mr. Lorry, Kit 
Nubbles, Arthur Clcnnam, Wemmiek, and Polly Toodle. Mention of 
Our Mutual Friend , just published in complete form, led to interest- 
ing conversation. It showed the novelist’s extraordinary topo- 
graphical knowledge of London, particularly the suburbs. 44 Boffin’s 
Bower ” gave the spur to the gossip. 

“ I have often wondered, and said if the opportunity ever came 
of a chat with Mr. Dickens I should like to know the exact where- 
abouts of the * quiet, shady street near Pentonville,’ in which Mr. 
Brownlow lived.” 

“ Why ? ” quietly asked the novelist. 

44 Having been born in that parish,” I said. 

44 Then you can tell me where the mulberry trees stand.” 

“ Yes, at the corner of Pent on Place, mentioned by Mr. Guppy 
as his address.” 

44 True,” was the answer ; “ might vou remember the number ? ” 

“ No. 87.” 

44 Excellent. Do you recollect any other places in Pentonville 
described by me ? ” 

44 Yes, the Crown Tavern on Pentonville Hill, where a young 
mechanic and two lasses sat in the garden, watched the omnibuses 
going to and fro, and afterwards went to the Eagle Saloon, in the 
City Road.” 

44 Perfectly correct. Both places were near Mr. Brownlow's 
residence.” 

44 I have frequently thought, sir, you have 1 ad special interest 
in north and north-western London. 1 * 

;; You think so ? ” 

44 In the five famous Christmas Books beginning with the Carol 
and ending with The Haunted Man , only one district is mentioned.” 

“ Which is that ? ” 

44 Camden Town, where Bob Cratch it lodged.” 

4 ’ Where do you fix Boffin’s Bowser ? ” 

44 In Belleislc, off Maiden Lane, near King's Cross.” 

44 Yes, it w r as there. But as a North Londoner, the 4 wish is father 
to the thought,* every quarter of London has had notice in my 
writings, all parts have been described.*’ 

Here Jeff Prowso came to the rescue, and instanced what the 
novelist had done for Southwark, Camberwell, and other places in 
south London, and also in the central and western portions. 

2 



34 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

The charm of the interview was in the ease and friendliness with 
which Dickens received us and conversed. His cordiality and 
genial temper gave us what Emerson describes as the healthiest 
attitude of human nature — namely, “ the nonchalance of boys.” 
He took us to the Chalet presented him by Fechter ; and showed 
us the subway from the grounds, all the while chatting and laughing 
as if we were intimate friends rather than casual visitors. When 
hastening to depart, and fearing we had intruded, he gaily rejoined, 
4< No ! no, I have greatly enjoyed your call.” At the gate of his 
memorable home, he wished us severally such kind wishes that wo 
could only bow, and felt unable to thank him. 

We strolled on, and rested in Cobkam Woods. There never to us 
had been such a summer day. The sky seemed bluer, the grass 
greener, the sun brighter. Why ? We had shaken hands and 
talked with Charles Dickens. — The late W. E. Church, in Household 
Words , March 26, 1904. 

THE CLOSING SCENE. 

I remember very well that at the very last Reading, on the 
15th March 1870, I thought I had never heard him read the 
Christmas Carol and the Trial from Pickwick so well and with 
so little effort. My readers know how soon the end came. He 
was in town for our usual Thursday meeting on the business of 
All the Year Round , and, instead of returning to Gad's Hill on that 
day, had remained overnight, and was at work again in his room 
in Wellington Street on Friday, 3rd June. During the morning l 
had hardly seen him except to take his instructions about some 
work I had to do, and at about one o’clock — I had arranged to go 
into the country for the afternoon — I cleared up my table and 
^prepared to leave. The door of communication between our rooms 
was open as usual, and, as I came toward him, I saw that he was 
writing very earnestly. After a moment I said, ” If you don’t 
want anything more, sir, I shall be off now,” but he continued his 
writing with the same intensity as before, and gave no sign of being 
aware of my presence. Again I spoke — louder, perhaps, this time— 
and he raised his head and looked at me long and fixedly. But I 
soon found that, although his eyes were bent upon mp and he seemed 
to be looking at me earnestly, he did not see me, and that he was, 
in fact, unconscious for the moment of my very existence. He was 
in dreamland with Edwin Brood, and I left him for the last time. ~ 
Charles Dickens, the younger, in North American Review , June 1895. 

During the whole of Wednesday, Mr. Dickens had manifested 
signs of illness, saying that lie felt dull, and that the work on which 
he was engaged was burdensome to him. He came to the dinner- 
table at six o’clock, and his sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, observed 
that his eyes were full of tears. She did not like to mention this to 
him, but watched him anxiously, until, alarmed by the expression 
on his face, she proposed sending for medical assistance. He said 
** No,” but said it with imperfect articulation. The next moment 



IN HIS FAMILY CIRCLE. 


35 


he complained of toothache, put his hand to the side of his head, 
and desired that the window might be shut. It was shut imme- 
diately, and Miss Hogarth went to him, and took his arm, intending 
to lead him from the room. After one or two steps he suddenly 
fell heavily on his left side, and remained unconscious and speechless 
until his death, which camo at ten minutes past six on Thursday, 
just twenty-four hours after tho attack. As soon as he fell a tele- 
gram was dispatched to his old friend and constant medical attend- 
ant, Mr. F. Carr Beard, of Welbeck Street, who went to Gad’s Hill 
immediately, but found the condition of his patient to be past hope. 
Mr. Steele, of Strood, was already in attendance ; and Dr. Russell 
Reynolds went down on Thursday, Mr. Beard himself remaining 
until the last. The symptoms point conclusively to the giving 
way of a blood vessel in the brain, and to consequent large haemor- 
rhage, or, in other words, to what is called apoplexy. — Times , 
Saturday, June 11, 1870. 



Ill 


IIIS LITERARY LIFE 

Replying to the toast of his health at a public dinner, given in his 
honour at Edinburgh on June 25, 1841, and presided over by the 
late Professor Wilson, Dickens said : “ It is a difficult thing for a man 
to speak of himself or of his works. But perhaps on this occasion 
I may, without impropriety, venture to say a word or two on the 
spirit in which mine were conceived. 1 felt an earnest and humble 
desire, and shall do till I die, to increase the stock of harmless 
cheerfulness. I felt that the world was not utterly to be despised ,* 
that it was worthy of living in for many reasons. I was anxious to 
find if I could, in evil things, that soul of goodness which the Creator 
has put in them. I was anxious to show T that virtue may be found 
in the byways of the world, that it is not incompatible with poverty 
and even with rags, and to keep steadily through life the motto, 
expressed in the burning words of your Northern poet : 

‘The rank is hut the guinea stamp, 

The nnn\s the gu\vd for a' that.’ 

“ Not untried in the school of affliction, in the death of those we 
love, I thought what a good thing it would be if in my little work 
of pleasant amusement [The Old Curiosity Shop] 1 could substitute 
a garland of fresh flowers for the sculptured horrors which disgrace 
the tomb. If I have put mto my book anything which can till the 
young mind w'ith better thoughts of death, or soften the grief of 
older hearts ; if I have written one word which can afford pleasure 
or consolation to old or young in time of trial, I should consider it 
as something achieved — something which I should be glad to look 
back upon in later life. Therefore I kept to my purpose, not- 
withstanding that, towards the conclusion of the story, I daily 
received letters of remonstrance, especially from the ladies. God 
bless them for their tender mercies ! ” — S 1. 

Dickens spoke to similar effect when addressing the “ young men '* 
of Boston, February 1, 1842. He said : 

“ I have always had, and always shall have, an earnest and true 
desire to contribute, as far as in me lies, to the common stock of 
healthful cheerfulness and enjoyment. I have always had, and 
always shall have, an invincible repugnance to that mole-eyed 

30 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


37 


philosophy which loves the darkness, and winks and scowls in the 
light. I believe that Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches, 
as she does in purple and fine linen. I believe that she and every 
beautiful object in external nature claim some sympathy in the 
breast of the poorest man who breaks his scanty loaf of daily bread. 
I believe that she goes barefoot as well as shod. I believe that she 
dwells rather of tenor in alleys and byways than she does in courts 
and palaces, and that it is good, and pleasant, and profitable to 
track her out, and follow her. I beliove that to lay one’s hand 
upon some of those rejected ones whom the world has too long 
forgotten, and too often misused, and to say to the proudest and 
most thoughtless : 4 These creatures have the same elements and 
capacities of goodness as yourselves, they are moulded in the same 
form, and made of the same clay, and though ten times worse than 
you, may, in having retained anything of their original nature amidst 
the trials and distresses of their condition, be really ten times 
better ’ — I believe that to do this is to pursue a worthy and not 
useless vocation .” — S 1. 

STRIKING PROOF OF HIS SL'CCEF . 

During the winter of I860 he received a letter from a man in- 
forming him that he had begun life in the most humble way, and 
that he attributed his own great success in life entirely to the helpful 
encouragement and animating influence he had derived from the 
novelist’s works. This unknown correspondent had just inherited 
a fortune from his recently deceased partner, and his first desire 
was to render the novelist some testimonial of gratitude and venera- 
tion ; whereupon he sent for his benefactor’s acceptance two silver 
table-ornaments of considerable value, bearing this inscription : 
41 To Charles Dickens, from one who has been cheered and stimulated 
by his writings, and who held the author amongst his first remem- 
brances when he became prosperous.” One of these silver orna- 
ments was supported by a trio of figures, representing three Seasons ; 
in the original design there were, of course, four, but the donor, 
averse to associating the idea of Winter in any sense with Charles 
Dickens, caused the artist to alter the design and leave only the 
cheerful seasons. No event in the great writer's career was ever 
more gratifying and delightful to him . — F ]. 

THE RAPIDITY OF 11IS SUCCESS. 

Mr. James Grant, editor of the MonMlay gazine » in which some 
of Dickens’s sketches lirst appeared, wrote some yearn after the 
novelist had become famous: 44 Only imagine Mr. Dickens offering 
to furnish me with a continuation, for any length of time I might 
have named, of his Sketches by Boz for eight guineas a sheet, whereas 
in little moro than six months from that date he could — so great 
in the interval had his popularity become — have got a hundred 
guineas per sheet of sixteen pages from any of the leading periodi* 
cals of the day l *’ — K 1. 



38 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


ASSOCIATIONS WITH BENTLEY. 

¥ 

Forster describes the contracts made between Mr. Bentley and 
Dickens as “ a network of agreements ” which had entangled the 
writer and crippled his best energies. If Dickens were “ entangled 
in a network,” so soon as he made complaint of his situation it was 
the publisher himself who came to “ disentangle ” him and actually 
set him free. There can be no doubt of this after the letter written 
to the Times , December 8, 1871, by his son, Mr. George Bentley. 

From this it appeared that Dickens, who was introduced to the 
publisher in March 1836, by his father-in-law, Mr. George Hogarth, 
had agreed with Mr. Bentley, on 22nd August, that two novels 
should be written for the price of £500 each. At this time the 
success of Pickwick w^as assured, as some six numbers had appeared. 
On 4th November another agreement was signed by which Dickens 
was to become editor of a new magazine, Bentley's Miscellany , at 
a salary of £20 a month. At the close of the year the same firm 
published his operetta, The Village Coquettes . But in the March of 
the following year, by which time Pickwick was concluded, and 
when he was receiving for a single story £3000, he felt that a new 
one must be worth much more to him. There could be no question, 
however, that he was bound by his contract, which had seemed 
fair and advantageous to both the parties at the time it was made. 
No change could be made except through negotiation. He was even 
carrying out one portion of the bargain by issuing Oliver Twist in 
the magazine ; the other story was to be Barnahy Budge . Dickens 
now asked that he should receive £600 each for his two stories, and 
in September 1837, it was settled that he was to have £750 for 
each, or £1500 instead of the stipulated £1000. In February 1839, 
Dickens declined to continue editing the Miscellany , and after many 
pourparlers fresh arrangements were made as to the two stories, 
Bentley agreeing to give £4000 for the unwritten Barnahy , which 
was to be completed by the January of the following year. This 
was undeniably liberal and accommodating on the side of Mr. 
Bentley, considering that his contract had secured him the book 
originally for £500. Dickens, however, now seemed disinclined to 
go on with him on any terms, and the upshot was that the latter 
agreed to rescind this agreement also, and finally resigned all claim 
to the one story and its profits, as well as to Oliver Twist , for the sum 
of £2250. Considering that the author was to receive £3000 from his 
new publishers for six months’ use of the new story, with a share of 
the profits, this seems accommodating enough. On the whole, it is 
evident that the publisher made heavy sacrifices to please the 
writer, and so far from “ entangling ” him, was accommodating 
enough to set him free, even at the expense of his own interests. — 
F 3 . 

ASSOCIATION WITH MACRONE. 

The Letters to Mitton, which seem to have escaped Forster, 
throw an unexpected light on “ Boz’s ” early profits from his 



DICKENS IN HIS STUDY - AT TAVISTOCK HOUSE, 1854 
A portion of the painting by h\ M. IKard, li.A 


30 



40 • 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


works. There was a novel which ho had contracted to write for 
Macrone, Barvaby Budge , or, as it was originally intended to bo 
called, Gabriel Varden, the Locksmith of London. Macrone re- 
peatedly advertised it as forthcoming, but it did not appear until 
four years later, when it was published by Chapman & Hall. The 
agreement on the part of Dickens to write Gabriel Varden is dated 
8th May 1836, and the price stipulated was £200 for a first edition 
of not more than one thousand copies ; the profits on extra copies, 
all expenses being first deducted, to be divided. — F 2. 

METHODS OF WORK. 

One who knew him well says : 

“ He did not work by fits and starts, but had regular hours 
for labour, commencing about ten and ending about two. It is 
an old saying, that easy writing is very difficult reading ; Mr. 
Dickens’s works, so easily read, were by no means easily written. 
He laboured at them prodigiously, both in their conception and 
execution. During the whole time that he had a book in hand, 
he was much more thoughtful and preoccupied than in his leisure 
moments.” 

Another friend has written : 

“ His hours and days were spent by rule. He rose at a certain 
time, he retired at another, and, though no precisian, it was not 
often that his arrangements varied. His hours for writing w r ere 
between breakfast and luncheon, and when there was any work to 
be done, no temptation was sufficiently strong to cause it to bo 
neglected. This order and regularity followed him through the 
day. His mind was eventually methodical, and in his long walks, 
in his recreations, in his labour, he was governed by rules laid 
down for himself by himself — rules well studied beforehand, and 
rarely departed from.” — 1/4. 

With the pains he took to perfect whatever proceeded from his 
own pen everyone who has read his life must be conversant; but 
this minute attention to e/en the smallest details had its drawbacks. 
When an inaccuracy, however slight, was brought home to him, 
it made- him miserable. So conscious was I of this, that I never 
liked to tell him of a mistake in Doml)ey and Son , which has escaped 
the notice of “ readers,” professional and otherwise, in every edition. 
The Major and “ Cleopatra ” sit down to play piquet ; but what they 
do play — for they “ propose to ” one another — is ('carte. — P 4. 

No writer set before himself more laboriously the task of giving 
the public the very best. A great artist, who once painted his 
portrait while he w r as in the act of writing one of the most popular 
of his stories, relates that he was astonished at the trouble Dickens 
seemed to take over his w r ork, at the number of forms in which he 
would write down a thought before he hit out the one which seemed 
to his fastidious fancy the best, and at the comparative smallness 
of manuscript each day’s sitting seemed to have produced. Those 
too, who have seen the original MSS of his works, many of which 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


41 


he had bound and kept at his residence at Gad’s Hill, describe them 
as full of interlineations and alterations. — H 4. 

A writer in a weekly journal (Weekly Dispatch , June 18, 1870) 
says : 

“ I remember well one evening, spent with him by appointment, 
not wasted by intrusion, when I found him, according to his own 
phrase, picking up the threads of Martin Cliuzzlewit from the 
printed sheets of the half- volume that lay before him. This accounts 
for the seeming incompleteness of some of his plots ; in others, 
the design was too strong and sure to be influenced by any outer 
consideration. He was only confirmed and invigorated by the 
growing applause, and marched on, like a successful general, with 
each victory made easier by the preceding one. It seemed hardly 
to come within his nature to compose in solitary fashion, and wait 
the event of the whole work. No doubt, this resulted in part from 
his character as a journalist ; and so did his utter disdain of the 
shams which it is the express province of journalism to detect and 
expose .” — II 4. 

He was extremely careful with his manuscript, altering this and 
interlineating that, that often it was almost undecipherable. He 
made exhaustive alterations on his proofs, too, and in fine, up to 
the very moment of the appearance of a book, interested himself 
in it. After getting hold of a central idea he revolved it in his 
mind until he had thought the matter thoroughly out. Then he 
made what I might call a programme of his story with the characters, 
drawing up each chapter in skeleton form. Upon this skeleton 
story he set to work, and gave it the literary sinew, blood, and life 
of, say, a David Copper field or an Oliver Twist. — Frederic Chapman, 
interviewed in Daily Chronicle , June 25, 1892. 

ms ACCURACY. 

In proof of Dickens's accuracy in all matters of detail, an eminent 
medical authority assures us that his description of hectic, given 
in Oliver Twist , has found its way into more than one standard 
English work, in both medicine and surgery (Miller's Principles 
of Surgery , second edition, p. 46 ; also Dr. Aitkin’s Practice of 
Medici ne. third edition, vol. i. p. Ill); also into several American 
and French books of medicine. A high medical authority assures 
us, that in the author’s description of the last illness of Mrs. Skewton 
(Dombey and Son), he actually anticipated the clinical researches 
of M. Dax, Broca, and Hughlings Jackson, on the connection of 
right hemiplegia with aphasia. — ll 4. 

Pickwick is quoted in a grave legal work, Taylor on Evidence , 
where Sam’s examination is actually given in full. — Percy Fitz- 
gerald, in Among my Books. 

Readers of Dickens’s letters cannot fail to have been struck by 
his habit of writing out the day and giving the date of the month 
in words. 



42 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


HIS FAVOURITE IKK. 

The present habit among literary men — especially amongst those 
formerly connected with Household JKords, and more recently with 
All the Year Round — of using blue in preference to black ink, arose 
with Mr. Dickens. “ The Chief ” disliked the necessity of blotting 
his MS. in the progress of composition, and on finding that a 
certain make of blue ink dried almost immediately it left the pen, 
he invariably used that kind ever after ; and thus began the fashion 
for blue ink among London journalists . — H 4. 

ABSORPTION IK HIS CHARACTERS. 

Soon after his return [from his second course of readings in 
America] I joined my father as private secretary and sub-editor 
of All the Year Round, and almost my very first experience of work 
with him was connected with the new reading which he now had 
strongly in his mind — that of the Sikes and Nancy murder. We 
were alone together at Gad’s Hill, I remember, and I was sitting, 
with doors and windows open, one bright, clear, still, warm autumn 
day, in the library, engaged upon a mass of papers, as to which I 
had to report to him later in the day. Where he was I did not 
know, but, supposing him to be in the Swiss chalet, over in the 
shrubbery, across the road, took advantage of having the place to 
myself, and went steadily on with my work. Presently I heard a 
noise as if a tremendous row were going on outside, and as if two 
people were engaged in a violent altercation or quarrel, which threat- 
ened serious results to somebody. Ours being a country constantly 
infested with tramps, I looked upon the disturbance at first as merely 
one of the usual domestic incidents of tramp life arising out of some 
nomadic gentleman beating his wife up our lane, as was quite the 
common custom, and gave it hardly a moment's attention. Pre- 
sently the noise came again, and yet again, worse than before, until 
I thought it really necessary to ascertain what was going on. Step- 
ping out of the door on to the lawn at the back, I soon discovered 
the cause of the disturbance. There, at the other end of the meadow, 
was my father, striding up and down, gesticulating wildly, and, in 
the character of Mr. Sikes, murdering Nancy, with every circum- 
stance of the most aggravated brutality. — (diaries Dickens, the 
younger, in the North American Review , June 1805. 

THE LOOKING-GLASS. 

He was usually alone when at work, though there were, of course, 
some occasional exceptions, and I myself constituted such an 
exception. During our life at Tavistock House I had a long and 
serious illness, with an almost equally long eonvaloscenco. During 
the latter my father suggested that I should be carried every day 
into his study, to remain with him, and, although I was fearful of 
disturbing him, he assured me that he desired to have me with him. 
On one of, these mornings I was lying on the sofa endeavouring to 
keep perfectly quiet, while my father wrote busily and rapidly at 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


43 


his desk, when he suddenly jumped from his chair and rushed to a 
mirror which hung near, and in which I could see the reflection of 
some extraordinary facial contortions which he was making. He 
returned rapidly to his desk, wrote furiously for a few minutes, 
and then went to the mirror. The facial pantomime was resumed, 
and then turning towards, but evidently not seeing me, he began 
talking rapidly in a low voice. Ceasing this soon, however, he re- 
turned once more to his desk, where he remained silently writing 
until luncheon- time. It was a curious experience for me, and one of 
which I did not until later years fully appreciate the purport. Then 
I knew that with his natural intensity he had thrown himself com- 
pletely into the character that he was creating, and that for the time 
being he had not only lost sight of his surroundings, but had actually 
become in action, as in imagination, the personality of his pen. 
After a morning’s close work he was sometimes quite preoccupied 
when became in to luncheon. Often when we were only our home 
party at Gad’s Hill, he would come in, take something to eat in a 
mechanical way, and return to his study to finish the work he had 
left, scarcely having spoken a \.ord. Our talking at these time3 
did not seem to disturb him, though any sudden sound, as the 
dropping of a spoon or the clinking of a glass, would send a spasm 
of pain across his face. — Dickens’s daughter, interviewed, in The 
Young il Ian, December 1894. 

GIFT FOR NOMENCLATURE. 

It is well known that the quaint surnames of his characters, 
concerning which essays have been written, were the result of much 
painstaking. Dickens, with a genius which might have justified 
his trusting it implicitly and solely, placed his ci.ief reliance on his 
own hard labour. It is said that when he saw a strange or odd name 
on a shop-board, or in walking through a village or country town, 
he entered it in his pocket-book, and added it to .his reserve list. 
Then, runs the story, when lie wanted a striking surname of a new 
character, he had but to take the first half of one real name, and 
to add it to the second half of another, to produce the exact effect 
upon the eye and ear of the reader he desired. — Daily Ncivs, June 11, 
1870. 

In his little book, Dinners with Celebrities , Mr. Howard Paul gives 
an account of the origin of Chadband. On one occasion Dickens 
and Mr. Paul walked from Stratford to Warwick, and, passing the 
sign of a draper with Chadband on it, Mr. Paul pointed to it and said, 
“ I thought you invented that name.” “ No,” was the reply of 
Dickens, “ I took it from that very sign, and you are one of the few 
people who have noted the discovery. I saw it a year or more 
before I used it, popped it down in my notebook, and when I was 
thinking over a name for the character I was then engaged on, Chad- 
band seemed to fit it ; and it was a telling stroke, for people seem to 
remember both the character and the name.” It would be interest- 
ing to know what was the fate of that signboard. It. can hardly 



44 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


be in existence, for Bleak House was published over forty years ago. 
— Westminster Gazette , February 8, 1896. 

his “bark” and his “bite.” 

Here is an extract from a letter of Charles Dickens, unearthed by 
the Publishers ’ Circular from its own columns forty years ago : 

“ That is a very horrible story you tell me of. I wish to God 
I could get at the parental heart of — — , in which event I would so 
scarify it that he should writhe again. But if I were to put such a 
father as he into a book, all the fathers going (and especially the bad 
ones) would hold up their hands and protest against the monstrous 
caricature. 

“ I find that a great many people (particularly those who might 
have sat for the character) consider Mr. Pecksniff a grotesque im- 
possibility ; and Mrs. Nickleby herself, sitting before me in a solid 
chair, once asked me whether I really believed there ever was such 
a woman. 

44 So , reviewing his own case, could not believe in Jonas 

Chuzzlewit. 4 1 like Oliver Twist,' says , 4 for 1 am fond of 

children. But the book is unnatural ; for who would think of being 
cruel to poor little Oliver Twist ? ’ Nevertheless, I will bear the dog 
in my mind, and if I can hit him between t he eyes, so that he shall 
stagger more than you or I have done this Christmas, under the 
combined efforts of punch and turkey, I will.” 

Dickens’s bark in these matters was, however, we suspect, a good 
deal worse than his bite. — Westminster Gazette , October 11, 1902. 

PUZZLING THE QUIDNUNCS. 

The number of Bentley's Miscellany for March 1837 contained 
the following verse on Dickens : 

“ Who the dickens ‘Buz’ c/m be 
Puzzled many a learned elf, 

Till time unveiled the mystery, 

And ‘ Boz ’ appeared as Pickens’ self .’’ — K 1, 

As, for the space of two years [1846], no serial story by 44 Boz >s 
had been published, his numerous readers were puzzled to know the 
reason, and various conjectures were circulated. The public prints, 
too, commented on the situation, the S porting Magazine indulging 
in the following amusing epigram : 

“ It’s so long since Dickens has written a book, 

That all the world's authors consider it rum of him ; 

They hint that lie's dead, with a wink and a look, 

If he's not, what the dickens on earth has become of him ?” — K 1. 

Dickens suspended for a short time the writing of Pickwick owing 
to the death of his sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth. In consequence 
rumour sagely declared it to be impossible that a work 4< so varied. 




46 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


so extensive, and yet so true in its observations, could be the pro- 
duction of any single individual ; that it was the joint production 
of an association, the different members of which transmitted their 
various ideas and observations ; that one of their number, whose 
province it was to reduce them to a connected form, was, and had 
for many years been, a prisoner in the King’s Bench ” ! It was 
likewise surmised that the author was a youth of eighteen who had 
been bred to the Bar, and whose health had so seriously suffered 
through his literary exertions that there was not the slightest 
chance of his ever publishing another* number of Pickwick. — K 1. 

“ Boz ” is the fictitious signature of a young man named Dickens, 
who was for some years engaged as a writer in one of the London 
newspapers, which he enlivened with his humorous and graphic 
sketches. We are not aware that he is a native of London, but he 
has at least, by his residence there, made himself minutely familiar 
with the peculiarities of the people, chiefly of the middle and lower 
ranks, which he has the knack of hitting off in a singularly droll 
and happy manner. — Chambers's Journal , April 29, 1837. 

“ BOZ ” AND BLACKING. 

The story of “ Boz’s ” childhood is a highly dismal one ; but the 
iron never seems to have regularly entered his little soul until he was 
set to handling blacking, or rather blacking-bottles. Years later, 
when he recalled it and wrote it down, he seemed to w r rithe in a sort 
of agony. He told his friend Forster that he never could lose the 
remembrance of those trials. “ No. 30, Strand,” was Warren’s 
mystic figure, as “ 97 ” was Day & Martin’s. Little “ Boz ” was 
not even engaged at the original great Warren’s, but at a relation’s 
of the same name, who was trying to secure some of the business. 
Warren and Day & Martin w r ere rivals, but with the latter was the 
victory, for Warren is now extinct, in spite of all his ingenious arts, 
the keeping of a poet, etc. If Warren is glorified in Pickwick , 
Day & Martin are also mentioned. His blacking was used at what 
was in “ Boz’s” eyes the most important country house he knew f — 
to wit, Dingley Dell, Mr. Wardle’s seat in Kent. Like his own 
Mr. Dick he could not keep it out of his “ memorial i.e. his tales. 
As he had well kept his own secret, I could fancy his smiling to 
himself as he thought he was mystifying his readers. We can 
imagine the bright youth saying to himself, as he wrote down the 
words in Fumival’s Inn : “ This will puzzle ’em a bit in fifty years 
or so — What can he mean by telling us these things about Warren 
and Day & Martin ? But I know — its my ow r n little joke — even my 
own people will never guess to what I am referring.” There W'as 
something grim in this ; but it is the only solution. 

In Pickwick there are several odd allusions to blacking and the 
use of blacking. The entry of Sam on the scene is in an atmo- 
sphere of blacking. We learn all about cleaning boots at inns — 
they are ranged in rows, and under different categories. Sam worked 
with such goodwill, we are told, that “ the polish would have struck 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


47 


eavy to the soul of the amiable Mr. Warren ” (for they used Day & 
Martin at The White Hart). “ Amiable ” is an odd term to apply 
to a blacking maker ; or is it “ wrote sarcastic ” ? He probably 
refers to the amiable ways of the firm — the giving of verses and 
lyrics to entertain or induce customers. Nor did he content himself 
with this stroke ; he classes them with a set of officials whom he 
detested and ridiculed — to wit, Beadles. No one, said old Weller, 
ever wrote poetry, “ ’cept a Beadle on Boxing Day, or Warren’s 
blackin’.” At Dingley Dell almost the first refreshment or solace 
offered to the Pickwickians after their walk was “ a bottle of blacking 
and some half-dozen brushes.” And Mr. Pickwick’s boots were 
blacked till “ his corns were red hot.” Even when writing, so long 
after the event, in Little Dorrit he could not keep away from the 
topic. The young Barnacle — describing some one, says : “ He was 
a partner in a house in some large way — spirits, or buttons, or wine, 
or ” — here one would think what a vast field of manufactures or 
merchandise was open to him — but no, “ or blacking,” he suggests, 
of all unlikely things in the world. It is a sad, piteous, and most 
significant episode, which few but Dickens would have so heroically 
struggled out of. — -Daily News , March 0, 1001. 

It is a curious fact, and one to reflect on, that, knowing as the 
reading world docs from Mr. Forster s book, how strongly and 
cnduringly Dickens was affected by these sad times, we yet find him, 
in nearly all his books, from the very first to the last, continually 
recurring to the subject- of the blacking business. Taking his 
works in their order of publication, I find he mentions, in his Sketches 
by Boz , the shabby-genteel man in the Seven Dials who wrote poems 
for Warren. It is mentioned twice in Pickwick , once in Oliver Twist , 
in Nicholas Nickleby seven times ; it occurs in the Old Curiosity 
Shop , where Mr. Slum, the writer of poetical advertisements, is 
introduced. In David Copper field it is veiled under the cover of 
the wine stories. In Hard Times , where Josiah Bounderby brags 
that tho only pictures he possessed when a boy were the illustrated 
labels “ of a man shaving himself in a boot on the blacking bottles.” 
In Little Dorrit , in Great Expectations , in Our Mutual, Friend , and in 
Edwin Drood are said to be found brief, but unmistakable allusions 
to this business. — L 1. 

“boz” and eoswell. 

Dickens was a great admirer of the immortal Life , and thoroughly 
permeated with its spirit. It is not too fanciful to say that Pichvicx 
is perhaps the only known book written on the same lines. Mr. 
Pickwick was as rudely despotic as Johnson. His friends were his 
“ followers.” Snodgrass kept a notebook in which lie entered the 
conversation and stories. As Johnson had his faithful black servant, 
so Mr. Pickwick had his trusty Sam. Both loaders travelled about 
on coaches and stayed at inns, Mr. Pickwick went to Bath and 
drank the waters, as did Dr. Johnson. Johnson had his Mrs. 
Thrale, as Mr. Pickwick had his Mrs. Bardell. Mr. Pickwick 



48 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


attended a review at Rochester, and so did Dr. Johnson. Winkle 
somewhat resembled Goldsmith in trying to do feats, etc., and always 
failing. Some of the passages in both books might be transposed 
and the change scarcely noticed. Witness this: “The Doctor 
appeared in pumps for a dance. ‘ You in silk stockings ! ’ exclaimed 
a gentleman jocosely. ‘ And why not, why not, sir ? ’ said my 
revered friend, turning warmly on him. ‘ Oh, of course, there is no 
reason why you should not wear them/ responded the gentleman. 
£ I imagine not, I imagine not, sir/ said the Doctor in a very 
peremptory tone. The gentleman had contemplated a laugh, 
but he found it was a serious matter ; so ho looked grave and 
said they were a pretty pattern. k I hope they are/ said Dr. 
Johnson, fixing his eyes upon him. ‘ You see nothing extraordinary 
in the stockings, as stockings, 1 trust, sir/ * Certainly not — oh, 
certainly not/ He walked away, and Dr. Johnson’s countenance 
assumed its customary benign expression.” This occurs, not in 
Boswell, but in Pickwick , with a slight change of names. 

Sam’s well-known story of the person who killed himself by eating 
three shillings’ worth of crumpets — about three dozen — was taken 
from Boswell. In his book we are told of a gentleman who, having 
resolved to shoot himself, ate three buttered muffins for breakfast, 
knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion. The 
story, however, is said by De Quincey to be given by Darwin, who 
relates it of a colonel who shot himself “ on principle ” and because 
“ a muffinless world was no world for him.” “ Boz ” well knew his 
Boswell. 

In one passage “ Boz ” has attempted an imitation of the John- 
sonian dialogue, which is really good : 

“ Johnson : Sir, if it be not irrational in a man to count his 
feathered bipeds before they are hatched, we will conjointly astonish 
them before next year. Boswell : Sir, I hardly understand you. 
Johnson : You never understand anything. Boswell (in a sprightly 
manner) : Perhaps, sir, I am all the better for it. Johnson 
(savagely) : I don’t know but that you are. There is Lord Carlisle 
(smiling) ; he never understands anything, and yet the dog is well 
enough. Then, sir, there is Forster ; he understands many things, 
and yet the fellow is fretful. Again, sir, there is Dickens, with a 
facile way with him like Davy, sir — like Davy — yet lam told that 
the man is lying at a hedge ale-house by the seashoro in Kent, as 
long as they will trust him. Boswell : But there are no hedges by 
the sea in Kent, sir. Johnson : And why not, sir ? Boswell (at a 

loss) : I don’t know, sir, unless Johnson (thundering) : Let 

us have no unlesses, sir ! ” — St. James's Gazette , July 8, 1895. 

BIBLICAL ALLUSIONS. 

It should be said that Dickens was sometimes unfortunate in his 
Biblical allusions. Old Weller’s jesting allusions to the “ New 
Birth ” gave umbrage to religious persons. Almost the last page 
ho wrote contained something that brought him protest. A very 
awkward phrase in Little Dorrit fortunately escaped notice. He had 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


49 


slipped into an allusion to “ baptismal water on the brain,” and 
forgot to remove it, which he felt was certain to be mischievously 
perverted and used against him. “I wrote it in the text,” he 
said, “ more as a joke, which Forster should see in the proof.” 
Forster did see it, and hurriedly came to him in infinite alarm. “ The 
moment I saw it I knew what it was, and had already taken it out 
in my mind.” When the revise was before him, “ he most carefully 
took it out,” but in fact it somehow remained. — F 2. 

ETON. 

I had already several friends at Cookesley’s, and I soon had several 
more, among whom I may count the Rev. Gifford Cookesley, my 
tutor, as one of the best, and so he remained long after we both of 
us, master and pupil, left Eton for good. One of my tutor’s pupils 
was Charles Dickens, eldest son of the great novelist, and it has ever 
been to me a matter of curiosity to know why Dickens, who went 
out of his way to learn so much and to write so admirably about 
all sorts of schools, never interested himself in Eton, where his 
eldest son received his education. I do not remember any allusion, 
of any sort, to Eton in any of Ins works. If Disraeli, who had 
nothing whatever to do with the school, could so cleverly sketch 
Eton life in Coning shy as to make that novel one of the first re- 
commended to an Etonian as absolutely correct in every detail, 
as far as it went, how much more popular and of how far greater 
value would have been an Eton boy, and Eton generally, as depicted 
by Charles Dickens, who could have learnt every little detail that he 
did not acquire by personal observation “ on the spot ” from his 
son, who was there for full four years ! It is to me a problem. 
Young Charles was at a Dame’s (Myddleton’s, I think), and my 
tutor’s pupil-room was where he and ! used to m et, though other- 
wise I saw very little of him.— Sir Francis Burnand, B 3. 

PLAGIARISE AND IMITATION. 

So great was the popularity of Dickens’s earlier productions that 
various unscrupulous publishers issued works bearing similar titles 
and having an attempted resemblance to the style of the famous 
novelist. Mr. Kitton devotes more than twenty pages of his 
valuable Dickensiana (K 4) to this subject, which is also dealt with 
in Mr. G. A. Sala’s Charles Dickens (Routledge, 1870). 

It is somewhat astonishing to find Edmund Yates, the most 
faithful of Dickens’s henchmen and worshippors, so indiscreet as to 
write a comic parody of the master's style — and in his lifetime 1 
“ Boz” would, of course, have laughed at this ; but he must have 
thought it scarcely respectful. The imitation appeared in a book 
called Our Miscellany , and the imitation was supposed to be by 
Charles Diggins. I was, however, more astonishea lately to find 
that the genial and amiable Anthony Trollope had introduced a 
satirical portrait of “ Boz ” into his Warden under the title of “ Mr. 
Popular Sentiment,” which shows hostility. He particularly ridi- 
cules “ Boz’s ” efforts to reform the Rochester charities — F 2. 



50 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Thomas Hood, writing to the Athenaeum (June 1842) on “ Copy- 
right and Copywrong,” speaks of a conversation he had had with 
a bookseller on a spurious Master Humphrey's Clock. “ Sir,” said 
the bookseller, “ if you had observed the name, it was ‘ Bos, ? not 
4 Boz ’ — s, sir, not z ; and, besides, it would have been no piracy, 
sir, even with the z, because Master Humphrey's Clocks you see, sir, 
was not published as by ‘ Boz,’ but by Charles Dickens ! ” — H 4. 

SIS CHARACTERS CLASSIFIED. 


An ingenious gentleman has compiled the following census 
of Dickens’s characters. The list seems somewhat arbitrary, and 
is misleading in several respects, but it is certainly of interest : — 


Actors . , . . 

17 

Corporations (!) 

8 Plasterer . . 

. 1 

Actresses . . . 

10 

Cricketers . . 

6 Policemen . . 

. 12 

Actuary . . . . 

1 

Cripples . . . 

6 Pony (!) . . . 

. 1 

Adventurers . . 

2 

Dancing Masters 

3 j Pugilist . . 

. 1 

Aeronauts . . . 

2 

Detectives . . 

12 Raven (!) 

. 1 

Alderman . . . 

1 

Editors . . . 

4 Reporter. . . 

. 1 

Amanuensis . . 

1 

Emigrants . . 

7 Resurrectionist 

. 1 

Americans . . . 

25 

Fairies . . 

2 Sextons . . . 

. 3 

Apprentices . . 

6 

Farmers . . . 

4 Showmen . 

. 7 

Architects . . . 

4 

Footmen . . 

6 Shrews . . . 

12 

Authors .... 

8! Fops .... 

3 Spies . . . 

. 2 

Babies .... 

3 

Frenchmen , . 

23 Surgeons . . 

. 7 

Bachelors . . . 

10 Germans. . . 

5 Swindlers 

. 14 

Barbers .... 

4 

Governors . . 

3 Thieves . . 

. 12 

Barmaids . . . 

2 

Grocers . . . 

3 Toadies . . . 

. 10 

Beadles .... 

6 Invalids . 

7 Tobacconist 

. 1 

Blind persons . . 

3 

Jews .... 

3 Tramps . . . 

2 

Boarding - house 


Lawyers . . . 

35 Turnkeys . 

.’ 0 

keepers . . . 

3 

M.P.s. . . . 

7 Undertakers 

* . G 

Boobies .... 

2 

Misers . . . 

9 Vagabond^ . 

. 8 

Boots .... 

4 

Murderers 

10 Vessels (!) 

. 7 

Brokers .... 

9 

Nurses . . , 

1 3 Vestrymen 

. G 

Circus people . . 

7 

Old maids . . 

16 Waiters . . . 

. 13 

Clergymen . . . 

13 

Pawnbrokers . 

3 Widowers . 

. 3 

Clerks .... 

47 Physicians . . 

15 Widows . . . 

. 39 


— Westminster Gazette , August 6, 1895. 


It is computed that, in all, something like fifteen hundred char- 
acters people the works of the great novelist. In Pickwick alone 
it is estimated that there are three hundred and sixty characters. 

“ MAKING ALLOWANCES.” 

Nobody believes that the grotesque personages who figure in the 
pages of Dickens are anywhere to be found in real life. His plan 
was to seize upon some oddity of human nature, and invest his 
puppets with it so completely that they can never open their lips 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


51 


without betraying it. Whoever met with suclf a compound of 
impudence ani wit in a shoe-black, or a groom, as we find in the 
immortal Sam Weller ? It may have been our lot to know “ a 
great man struggling with the storms of fate,” but where shall we 
look for a man who is jolly in proportion as he is unfortunate, like 
M&rk Tapley ? Who can believe in the actual existence of such 
persons as Miss Flite and Miss Mowcher and Toots ? Gradgrind 
ik' so practical that he ceases to be human ; Micawber is full of 
maudlin sentiment and emphatic nonsense ; Mrs. Nickleby is 
always parenthetical and incoherent ; Boythorn never opens his 
lips without being intensely and boisterously energetic ; and Major 
Bagstock always describes himself as “ tough old Joe ” ; “ Joe is 
rough and tough, sir ! blunt, sir, blunt is Joe.” It would in the 
last degree be absurd for a future writer to take these characters 
as types of English society in the middle of the nineteenth century ; 
and, to a certain extent, the same kind of allowance must be made 
for the characters in the novels of the last century. ... I say that 
this allowance should be made only to “ a certain extent,” for I 
believe that the characters drawn by the old novelists are, with a 
few exceptions, intended to be less imaginary than the creations of 
fiction in our own day, and have a substratum of reality which is 
wanting in many of the amusing characters of Dickens. — Novels 
and Novelists of the Eighteenth Century, by Wm. Forsyth. 

ART OF CHARACTER-DRAWING. 

I remember Mr. Dickens telling me that he was constantly receiv- 
ing grotesque stories and suggestions of all kinds from strangers, 
which, as they thought, were “ exactly suited to his gifted pen.” 
Nearly all these were worthless, and not at all “ touted to his gifted 
pen,” because the reporters had not penetrated to the essence of 
the character, but had merely sent him what was on the surface. 
The original of our old friend, Mr. Micawber, was in the habit of 
using tiou rishings like those which are so exquisitely ludicrous in the 
novel ; yet in the novel there is hardly a sentence or a phrase which 
was actually used. Still, we feel a certainty that every phrase, or 
something like it, would have been used by the original had he 
found himself in the situations described by the novelist. I have 
no doubt that Dickens heard some female use one of the grotesque 
forms of speech that has given immortality to Mrs. Gamp, but I 
am certain that that worthy original never used a single phrase 
that is set dowm in the novel. I can fancy his working in this way : 
A single sentence of the pattern of “A lady which her name is 
Harris ” furnished the key to the whole. He had never heard the 
original talk of the Antwerp packet, but he felt by a sort oftlivina- 
tion that she must have called it, “The Ankworks packidge.” 
Then he would ask himself what would be the profession that would 
best exhibit and develop this lady’s peculiarities, and he settled 
on that of a monthly nurse, which was likely enough not the original 
one . — F 3. 



52 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


sam weller’s “ originals.” 

I do not think that, when I was travelling all over the country 
giving Dickens Readings, and being hospitably entertained at all 
sorts of houses, and acquiring a remarkable experience of all sorts 
of hotels, I heard of more than fifty originals of Sam Weller — but I 
certainly heard of no fewer. . . . As for Mr. Weller, senior, I think 
I may safely- say that I have never been in a town or village which 
was famous in the old coaching days without hearing of him. . . . 
Of course many points of many people have been reproduced in 
Charles Dickens’s books, but there are few, very few, cases in which 
absolute portraits are to be found. Of these, the bullying police* 
magistrate in Oliver Twist is one, having been taken bodily from a 
Mr. Laing, of Hatton Garden Police Court notoriety. Lawrence 
Boythom is Walter Savage Landor. The original of Miss Mowcher 
found the portrait so lifelike that she was moved to bitter remon- 
strance, with the result that the little chiropodist’s share in the 
working out of the plot of David Copjwr field was entirely reconsidered 
and altered. One Shaw, a Yorkshire schoolmaster, claimed to be 
the very Squeers himself, because all the neighbours said he was 
so like him. Leigh Hunt was grievously hurt by Harold Skiinpole, 
and, I think, reasonably. — Charles Dickens the younger, in Pall Mall 
Magazine , July 1896. 

PICKWICK AND DON QUIXOTE. 

There is no doubt that Dickens, like other great authors, borrowed 
many ideas from previous writers, a propos of which Mr. Forster 
points out that Smollett gave the hint of Sam Weller’s transference 
of himself to the prison in order to serve Mr. Pickwick ; while it 
is equally plain (as Dr. Bayne has indicated) that the incarceration 
of Jingle was suggested by that of Jenkinson in The Vicar of Wake- 
field. Lord Jeffrey saw* a resemblance between Mr. Pickwick and 
Don Quixote ; indeed, Pickwick has been alluded to as a free trans- 
lation of the famous Spanish romance into the manners of modern 
England, Mr. Pickwick being the hero, and Sam his companion 
Sancho. Seymour’s first idea of the founder of the Club represented 
him as a long thin man. — K 5. 

ORIGINALS OF SOME DICKENS CHARACTERS. 

The portrait of Micawber w*as based upon certain idiosyncrasies of 
Dickens’s father, whose flourishes of speech he enjoyed, and w hose 
financial troubles are shadowed forth in David Copper field. The 
presentment of Mrs. Nickleby w as partly drawn from the novelist’s 
ow r n mother, whose slight peculiarities arc exaggerated in the 
story ; h propos of which Charles Dickens the younger explained 
that it was only her somewhat involved and discursive style of 
narrative, and not the woman herself, that is reproduced. Tn Kate 
Nickleby we are justified in assuming a resemblance to his sister 
Fanny. 




54 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Dickens’s eldest sister, Fanny, married Henry Burnett, a pro- 
fessional vocalist, and their only child, Harry, was meditative and 
quaint in a remarkable degree, never tiring of reading the Bible 
and other good books. It was he, as the novelist confessed, who 
inspired the description of Paul Dombey ; and it is fair to surmise 
that poor Tiny Tim was associated in Dickens’s mind with the same 
original. Paul’s stem guardian, Mrs. Pipchin, was drawn from 
a Mrs. Roylance, with whom he lodged for a time during his father’s 
incarceration in a debtor’s prison. The prototypes of the Garland 
family (in The Old Curiosity Shop) relate to the same period ; he 
lived with them in Lant Street, Borough. Dickens obtained his 
impressions of the “ Marchioness ” from an orphan from Chatham 
workhouse, who was servant in the Dickens family in the days 
of his boyhood; the “ orlling ” from St. Luke's workhouse, who 
ministered in a similar capacity at the Micawbers’, was delineated 
from the same original. 

It is more than probable that the prototype of Miss La Creevy 
was an aunt of Dickens, Mrs. Janet Barrow, a painter of miniatures,, 
who limned his portrait on ivory a few years before the story was 
penned. Both the name and the personality of Newman Noggs 
were suggested by one Newman Knott, an impoverished gentleman 
who called regularly for a weekly allowance (left by a friend) at 
the lawyers’ office where Dickens acted as a clerk in 1827-28. In 
Mr. Fang (Oliver Twist) he admitted having metaphorically pilloried 
Mr. Laing, the presiding magistrate at the Hatton Garden Police 
Court, the result of the exposure being dismissal from office. In 
a more subtle manner he dealt with Sir Peter Laurie, Lord Mayor 
of London in 1832-33, who figured in The Chimes as Alderman Cute, 
the justice who declared his intention of “ putting dow n everything.” 

Sairey Gamp was actually portrayed from the life, her prototype 
being a nurse hired by a friend of Dickens, to take charge of an 
invalid. Wackford Squeers (as Dickens is careful to say) w r as in- 
tended as a type of Yorkshire schoolmasters — proprietors of those 
cheap boarding-schools then flourishing in Northern England. 
There is evidence, however, that he had a particular pedagogue in 
his mind — one William Shaw — w ho was by no means the worst of 
his tribe, and who, through Dickens’s vehement castigation in 
Nickleby , became the scapegoat for the rest. 

In Bleak House two of the leading characters are modelled from 
actual personages, namely, Boythom and Skimpolc, the former 
being the fictional presentment (and a by no means unpleasant 
one) of Walter Savage Landor, w hile the source of the portrait of 
the simple-minded, irresponsible Skimpole was discernible in 
peculiar traits of Leigh Hunt, who might not have discovered the 
resemblance had not kind friends called his attention to it, thereby 
inducing strained relations between him and Dickens — happily 
removed by the novelist’s explanation and frank avowal of regret. 

Probably no characters in fiction create a more agreeable im- 
pression than the brothers Cheeryble, confessedly drawn from the 
brothers Daniel and William Grant, self-made men, whom Dickens 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


55 


met at Stocks House, Manchester, in 1839, and whose generosity 
and benevolence ho had good reason to admire. Vincent Crummies, 
the chief figure in the theatrical portions of NicUeby , was portrayed 
(with a touch, probably, of caricature) from a shrewd old actor 
named Davenport, with whom Dickens had some acquaintance. 

Betsey Trotwood was a certain Miss Strong in real life, who lived 
at Broadstairs. Ham Peggotty, the chief figure in the storm scene 
in David Copper field, had a living prototype. Such an act of heroism 
as that ascribed to him was performed in 1829 by James Sharman, 
the keeper of the Nelson Monument at Great Yarmouth, who 
happily succeeded in his brave efforts and survived the ordeal. 
Sharman’s father was a member of the crew of the Victory, and 
assisted in carrying the dying Nelson to the cockpit. — Condensed 
from an article by the late F. G. Kitton, in T.P.'s Weekly, October 
21, 1904. See also The Novels of Charles Dickens : a Bibliography 
and Sketch. By Frederic G. Kitton. London : Elliot Stock, 1897. 

OTHER IDENTIFICATIONS. 

In the following further list of Identifications the prototypes in 
square brackets, as distinct from those in parentheses, are somewhat 
conjectural. 

Sketches by Boz. — Mr. Percy Noakes, “ The Steam Excursion ” 
(Mr. Peter Hardy, a London actuary) ; Jones, “ Misplaced Attach- 
ment of Mr. John Dounce ” [Potter, a lawyer’s clerk]. 

Pickwick. — Doctor Slammer (Doctor Lamert, a regimental surgeon 
at Chatham) ; Mr. Wardle (Mr. William Spong, of Cob Tree, near 
Maidstone) ; Sam Weller (Simon Spatterdash, n character in a play 
called The Boarding House, impersonated by Samuel Vale) ; Tony 
Weller (“ Old Chumley,” driver of a London to Rochester coach) ; 
Mr. Perker (Mr. Ellis, of Ellis & Blackmore, solicitors, Gray’s Inn) ; 
Mrs. Bardell [Mrs. Ann Ellis, proprietor of an eating-house near 
Doctors’ Commons] ; Count Smorltork (Prince Puckler-Muskau) ; 
Mrs. Leo Hunter [Mrs. Somerville Wood, fond of receiving cele- 
brities at her drawing-room gatherings] ; Serjeant Buzfuz (Serjeant 
Bom pas ) ; Serjeant Snubbin [Serjeant Arabin] ; Mr. Justice Stare- 
leigh (Sir Stephen Caselee, Justice of the Common Pleas); Mr. 
Skimpin [Mr. (afterwards Serjeant) Wilkin]. 

Nicholas Nickleby. — John Browdie (John F , a farmer of 

Broadiswood). 

The Old Curiosity Shop. — Mr. Slum (a poet employed at Warren’s 
blacking factory). 

Barnaby Budge. — Barnaby Rudge [Walter de Brisac, of Chatham] ; 
Sir John Chester (Lord Chesterfield) ; Ned Dennis (John Dennis, 
the hangman) ; Mr. Gashford (Dr. Robert Watson, the biographer 
of Lord George Gordon). 

Martin Chuzdewit. — Mr. Pecksniff [Samuel Carter Hall]. 

Dombey and Son. — Perch (Stephen Hale, a City messenger) ; 
Doctor Blimbcr (Doctor Everard, proprietor of a boarding-school 
for young gentlemen at Brighton). 

David Copper field. — Barkis (Blake, a Blunderston carrier) ; Mr* 



56 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Mell (Mr. Taylor, the English master at Wellington House Academy, 
Hampstead Road) ; Mr. Creakle (Mr. Jones, the principal of Well- 
ington House Academy) ; James Steerforth (partly drawn from 
George Stroughill, of Chatham) ; Doctor Strong [Doctor John Birt, 

former headmaster of King’s School, Canterbury] ; Mr. Chillip 
(drawn from a doctor in attendance upon the Dickens family) ; 
Mr. Thomas Traddles (partly from Serjeant Talfourd) ; Captain 
Hopkins (Captain Porter, a prisoner at the Marshalsea) ; Gregory, 
Tipp, Mealy Potatoes, Mick Walker (employes at Warren’s blacking 
factory), namely, Thomas (the foreman), Harry (the carman), Paul 
Green, and Bob Fagin. 

Blealc House. — Esther Summerson [Miss Sophia Iselin, the 
poetess] ; Mrs. Jellyby [partly from Harriet Martineau] ; Phil 
Squod (Phil, a serving-man at Wellington House Academy, Hamp- 
stead Road); Mdlle. Hortense (Mrs. Manning, the murderess); 
Inspector Bucket (Inspector Field, a former chief of Detective 
Police at Scotland Yard). 

Little Dorrit. — Mr. Merdle (Mr. John Sadleir, M.P., an Irish banker). 

A T ale of Two Cities. — Mr. Strvvcr (Mr. Edwin James, a lawyer). 

Our Mutual Friend. — Mr. Venus (Mr. J. Willis, of St. Andrew’s 
Street, Seven Dials) ; Mr. BofTin (Mr. Henry Dodd, a London dust 
contractor). 

Edwin Brood. — Mr. Thomas Sapsea [Mr. John Thomas, an 
auctioneer, of Rochester] ; Mr. Tope (Mr. Miles, a verger at Rochester 
Cathedral). 

Hunted Down. — Mr. Julius Slinkton (Mr. Thomas Griffiths Wain- 
wright, the poisoner). 

Christmas Stories in All the. Year Round. — Mr. tindery, “ The 
Haunted House” (Mr. Frederick Ouvry, a solicitor); Captain 
Jorgan, “ A Message from the Sea ” (Captain Morgan) ; Mr. Mopes, 
“ Tom Tiddler’s Ground ” (James Lucas, the Hertfordshire Hermit) ; 
Lamps, “ Mugby Junction” (Chipperfield, a lamp foreman at 
Tilbury railway terminus). — T.P.'s Weekly , October 21, 1904. 

Boy thorn was affirmed to be the energetic Mr. Walter Savage 
Landor. Miss Martineau came forward in her own person to take 
the cap of Mrs. Jellyby, and to scold Mr. Dickens for his allusions 
to “ blue-stockingism ” and “ JBorioboola Gha.” Whether there 
was any foundation for these parallels betwixt living individuals 
and the characters in Blenk House , it is not now likely the world will 
ever know, but there can be no doubt about one of the characters 
in that book — the French lady’s-maid. Mr. Dickens made no 
secret about her representing Mrs. Manning, the murderess. Indeed 
he attended at her examination at the Police Court, and was present 
both at her trial and her execution. The character of Turveydrop 
was always believed to portray “ the first gentleman in Europe, 
His Sacred Majesty King George the Fourth. — H 4. 

In The Lives of the Sheridans , by Percy FitzGerald, the Bardcll 
and Pickwick case is supposed to have taken some of its colouring 
from the trial of Mrs. Norton in the Melbourne affair. Mr. Fitz- 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


57 


Gerald adds that Wardle, Tupman, Snodgrass, and other names aro 
found in the Duke of York’s trial ; while Dodson & Fogg is the 
name of the firm of solicitors, slightly altered, in one of the trials 
connected with “ Orator ” Hunt. 

Serjeant Buzfuz was an entity and had his prototype in fact* 
though of course very grossly — even savagely — caricatured, as I 
who was acquainted with it can testify. — Bench and Bar y by Mr. 
Serjeant Robinson. 

Marcus Stone was a name often heard at Gad’s Hill, where his 
good spirits and lively talk were ever welcome. He once told me 
that on a w r alk with Dickens to Rochester they encountered a trades- 
man’s cart on which was the name “ Weller.” He pointed this 
out as an odd coincidence. “ Nay,” said the novelist, with his 
jocund laugh, “ there he is ! That is the original ! ” Which will be 
of interest to true Pickwiekians .— F 3. 

The mother of Alice Meynell was Miss Weller, one of the early 
“ flames ” of Dickens. Pickwick had appeared some time before 
they had met . — V 3. 

It came to light in September 1909 that the grandson of the 
Weller whom Dickens knew was living and conducting, in Queen 
Street, Ramsgate, the business which his grandfather founded in 
1823. In a double-fronted shop there a representative of the 
Daily Chronicle found “ Sam ” Weller of the third generation. Mr. 
Weller at once frankly admitted that, although his surname was 
indubitably Weller, his Christian name was George. Mr. Weller’s- 
business was that of a hatter and hosier, and over his door was the 
inscription — 

Sam Weller; 

Established 1823. 

“ It is quite true,” said Mr. Weller, “ that Dickens took the name 
of his famous character from my grandfather. I cannot say, and I 
do not believe, that he got any of Sam Weller’s characteristics from 
my grandfather. They knew each other, and were on friendly terms 
during the time Dickens lived at Broadstairs.” — Daily Chronicle , 
September 30, 1909. 

PORTRAITS IN NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. 

The ingenious volume which the Rev. Hume Elliot has put forth,. 
The Story of the Cheeryble Grants , is yet another evidence of tho 
extraordinary vogue of the immortal “ Boz.” Readers who turn 
to the Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster, will find in the first 
volume of tho Gad’s Hill Edition, and on page 119, this testimony: 
“ We visited during two of those years friends of art and letters in 
his [ i.e., Ainsworth’s] native Manchester, from among whom Dickens 
brought away his Brothers Cheeryble.” That is Forster’s only 
allusion to the originals of Tim Linkinwater’s genial employers. 
Mr. Kitton traced the brothers to their prototypes, Daniel and 
William Grant, and gave a few details of their lives and fortunes. 
It is doubtful whether Dickens ever met the Grants ; certainly ho 



58 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


never knew them well. But their characters were well known in 
Manchester, and he might easily have heard enough in their praise to 
afford him material for his broad and kindly portraiture. — “ A. W.,” 
in the Daily Chronicle, March 3, 1907. 

I have always heard that much of the discipline described in Dotho- 
boys Hall was founded on my father’s description of his experiences. 
Charles Dickens and my father were fast friends, and in Nicholas 
NicUeby I can trace more than one family likeness. Nicholas him- 
self was my father in his youth, and there is in Ralph Nickleby* a 
suggestion of the stern old man in Golden Square. — A. [“The 
stern old man in Golden Square ” was William a Beckett, father of 
C. A. a Beckett, and grandfather of the author of the book.] 

A CURIOUS ERROR. 

Ill view of the endless discussions on Dickens which are always 
cropping up in the papers, it is amusing that it has been reserved for 
an American to point out an anachronism, glaringly obvious, in the 
eighth chapter of Nicholas Nicldeby : — 

“ Here’s a pretty go ! ” said that gentleman [Squeers], 4k the 
pump’s froze ! ” 

“ Indeed ! ” said Nicholas, not much interested in the intelligence. 

“ Yes,” replied Squeers. “ You can’t wash yourself this morning.” 

“ Not wash myself ? ” exclaimed Nicholas. 

44 Not a bit of it,” rejoined Squeers, tartly. “ So you must be 
content with giving yourself a dry polish till we break the ice in 
the well, and can get a bucketful out for the boys.” 

After breakfast : 

“ Where’s the second boy ? ” 

“ Please, sir, he’s weeding the garden,” replied a small voice. 

“ To be sure,” said Squeers, by no means disconcerted. 44 So 
he is. B — 0 — T, hot ; T — I — N, tin ; N — E — Y, ney, bottiney. 
Noun, substantive, a knowledge of plants ; he goes and knows ’em.” 

The Philadelphia Record , in printing the above from one of its 
contributors, adds : “ Sudden changes in the weather are by no 
means uncommon here, but we don’t break ice in wells and weed 
gardens on the same morning .” — Westminster Gazette , May 14, 189“). 

BLANK VERSE FOR PROSE. 

Mr. R. H. Home, in his New Spirit of the Age , says that the de- 
scription of Little Nell’s death, in The Old Curiosity Shop , if divided 
into lines, will form that species of gracefully irregular blank verse 
which Shelley and Southey often used. Here is a specimen : 

“ When Death strikes down the innocent and young 
For every fragile form, from which he lets 
The panting spirit free, 

A hundred virtues rise. 

In shape of mercy, charity, and love, 

To walk the world and bless it. 

Of every tear 

That sorrowing nature sheds on such green graves, 

Some good is born, some gentler nature comes .” — JJ 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


59 


THE DEATH OF LITTLE NELL. 

January 21, 1841. — Called on Dickens and gave him Douley’s 
first copy of Ethdstan. We walked out, called on Rogers. Asked 
Dickens to spare the life of Nell in his story ( Master Humphrey's 
Clock), and observed that he was cruel. He blushed, and men who 
blush are said to be either proud or cruel ; he is not proud, and 
therefore — or, as Dickens added — the axiom is false. — Macready’s 
Reminiscences. 

IN QUEST OF “ COPY.” 

Driving one day near Hook, on the Brighton Road, some four or 
five miles from Esher, we met Charles Dickens, who had, in 1836, 
become a favourite with the public through his Sketches by Boz. 
He was walking with Harrison Ainsworth. I have no doubt they 
were both on the look out for facts, images, or characters to weave 
into their constantly appearing fictions ; and in Dickens’s next 
production, Master Humphrey's Clock , I was amused to see that our 
stout and wilful pony, Peg, had not escaped his observation, but 
had been set to do service in Mr. Garland’s chaise. — Quoted from 
William Howitt’s Memoranda ^ a 837 ) in Mary Howitt : An 
Autobiography. 

DOMBEY AND SON. 

At Broadstairs in 1847 Dombey was being written, and also The 
Haunted Man , but these two contending interests distracted him. 
“ I’m blowed if I know what to do ! ” — F 2. 

In Notes and Queries for 28th August 1858 (this periodical takes 
its motto from one of Mr. Dickens’s characters), it was suggested 
that the name of “Carker” was framed from the Greek, as so much 
is said of Mr. Carker’s teeth. Mr. Dickens, however, replied to 
this, that the coincidence was undesigned. It lias been further 
suggested that the name was made up from “ canker ” and “ cart- 
ing ’ (as in “ carking care ”), which are very expressive of the 
blighting influence possessed by Carker. — H 4. 

BLEAK HOUSE. 

The writer of the article upon Landor in the Dictionary of National 
Biography remarks that “ Dickens drew a portrait of some at least 
of Landor’ s external peculiarities in his Boythom in Bleak II oust.” 
This is a very inadequate statement. Of course Lawrence Boythom 
was not a photographic likeness of Walter Savage Landor. But the 
“ external peculiarities,” however easily recognisable and easily 
delineated, were a very small and, artistically speaking, unimportant 
part of the portrait. There aro many passages in the private letters 
of Mr. Landor now in my possession which might be interpolated 
into the conversation of Lawrence Boythom without fear of any 
incongruity being detected. Although I have little doubt that these 
passages would be selected by critically disposed persons, as 
showing the author’s habitual exaggeration and disregard of proba- 
bility. — Frances Trollope , by Frances Eleanor Trollope. 



60 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


A TALE OF TWO CITIES. 

Concerning his preparation for this historical novel, a somewhat 
amusing incident is recorded. Anxious to be accurate regarding 
facts and dates, he begged Carlyle to lend him some of the authorities 
quoted in his own history — whereupon “ the Sage,” grimly enjoying 
the jest, despatched to Gad’s Hill all his reference volumes, com- 
prising about two cartloads of books ! We are assured, too, that 
Dickens read them faithfully, thus testifying to the earnestness 
with which he regarded his task, and indicating that thoughtful 
deliberation of which Forster gives many instances . — K 1 . 

The solicitors who advised me [Edmund Yates] in the matter [i.c., 
the quarrel between Yates and Thackeray] were Messrs. Farrar and 
Ouvry of Lincoln's Inn Fields and the counsel retained to conduct 
my case was Mr. Edwin James, Q.C., who at that time stood high in 
popular favour. A fat florid man. with a large hard face, was Edwin 
James, with chambers in the Temple and rooms in Pall Mall : his 
practice was extensive, his fees enormous. I had many consultations 
with him, but found it difficult to keep him to the subject of my 
case : he liked talking, but always diverted the conversation into 
other channels. One day I took Dickens — who had never seen 
Edwin James — to one of these consultations. James laid himself 
out to be specially agreeable ; Dickens was quietly observant. A bout 
four months after appeared the early numbers of A Tale of Two 
Cities , in which a prominent part was played by Mr. Stryvcr. After 
reading the description, I said to Dickens, “ Stryver is a good 
likeness.” He smiled. “ Not bad, I think,” he said, “ especially 
after only one sitting.” — 7. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 

One of our representatives in South Wales seems to have tumbled 
across the original from which Dickens drew his portrait of Joe 
Gargery, the genial blacksmith in Great Expectations. At Neath 
there lives an old man named John Cayford, to whom our represent- 
ative was introduced by Mrs. Taverner, of Brunswick Square. 
Cayford is an old man of eighty-one, and is now in very weak health. 
Dickens seems to have hit oil Cay ford’s personal characteristics 
exactly. He has suffered the vicissitudes of fortune which almost 
invariably fall to the lot of those who are “ mild, good-natured, 
sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish.” For twelve years he workod 
with credit to himself with Mr. Prior, formerly a locksmith and 
blacksmith in Marchmont Street. Ho afterwards ventured upon 
business on his own account, with, however, only gleams of pros- 
perity. In course of time the gleams grew less frequent, and 
ultimately they ceased altogether. For years past John Cayford 
and his wife (eighty-five years of age) would have suffered the 
agonies of extreme destitution had it not been for the unceasing 
kindness of Mrs. Taverner. Cayford was in the employ of Mr. Prior 
during the whole period that Charles Dickens lived at Tavistock 
House, Tavistock Square, and it was whilst working for Mr. Prior 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


61 


that he came into contact with the great novelist. There were 
many jobs at Tavistock House to place with a tradesman of Mr. 
Prior’s calling, and whenever a blacksmith or locksmith was required 
Cay ford was sent, and as he did his work Dickens would often 
stand by and watch him, and talk with him. 

“ They tell me,” said Cayford to our representative, “that there 
is in one of his books a blacksmith, and that possibly that black- 
smith is me. 

“He had at Tavistock House a man who used to write to his 
dictation,” continued Cayford. “ His name was Meadows. Meadows 
told me that he had done t he writing of the whole of one of Dickens’s 
books. Meadows said that he sat behind his master, who talked 
over his left shoulder to him. Meadows left Dickens, and in time 
got very low r down the scale. Then his wife died, and in a lit- of 
despair he took his own life. I w as sent for to come and see him dead.” 

“ Can you recall any very striking incidents in the course of your 
visits to Tavistock House ? ” asked our representative. 

“ Yes, I can,” was the prompt reply. “ I remember having 
to go there as late as nine o’clock one night, and in a dark recess 
I was set to work upon a cupboard. The cupboard was locked 
and the key was lost. I could see that Mr. Dickens was more than 
usually interested in what I was doing. It was a tall cupboard, 
with a kind of double door. As I have said, Mr. Dickens stood by, 
and be was as jocular as ever, and never gave me any bint as to 
what was in the cupboard. 1 had picked many locks at Tavistock 
House before, but this job was a tougher one than I had ever had 
there. 

“ Mr. Dickens saw, I suppose, that there was some difficulty, 
for he began to joke with me. I can recall his amused look. I 
set to work again, and, shortly after, the bolt of the lock shot back 
and the cupboard door Hew open. In the cupboard were a lot 
of what seemed to be toys, but the principal contents were two 
skeletons — one of them that of an adult. 

“ Mr. Dickens laughed, for, when the skeleton was moved, the 
bones rattled. 4 Do you mean to say that you are frightened, 
Cayford V ’ he said. 

44 1 replied, * No, sir. I am not likely to be frightened by this. 
I have seen too much in the vaults of St. Pancras Church to be 
frightened by this.’ ” 

This job, which has left so clear an impression on the memory 
of John Cayford, was probably done in connection with the pre- 
liminary work of the removal of the novelist’s effects from Tavistock 
House to Gad’s Hill. Dickens, in a letter dated 4th September, 
1860, wrote: 44 Tavistock House is cleared to-day, and possession 
given up.” On 4th October of the same year he w rote : “ I have 
decided to begin a story. The name is Great Expectation s — I think 
a good name.” And, adds our correspondent, it is throughout 
this book, Great Expectations , that what is now poor, old, broken- 
down John Cayford appears in the character of Joe Gargery. — 
Daily Chronicle , June 10, 1904. 



62 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


TOM TIDDLER’S GROUND. 

The Christmas number for 1861, Tom Tiddler's Ground , excited 
considerable curiosity, and one of the stories became a subject of 
general discussion — that of “ Mr. Mopes,” the hermit. The 
“ hermit ” was a living reality — a person of property and education, 
who, to mortify his friends, we believe, withdrew from the world, 
and lived in rags and filth. Soon after a letter, signed “ A County 
Down Lady,” was inserted in the Doumpalrick Recorder , in which 
the writer related the particulars of a visit she had paid to “ Mr. 
Mopes,” the hermit, and concluded by saying : “ Charles Dickens 
offended him terribly. He pretended he was a Highlander, and 
Mr. Lucas at once began to question him about the country, and 
then spoke to him in Gaelic, which ho couldn’t reply to. Mr. 
Lucas said to him, ‘ Sir, you are an impostor ; you are no gentle- 
man.’ ” 

A copy of the newspaper was at once forwarded to Mr. Dickens 
by a friend, who asked if there was any truth in the statement. 
The reply was : “ As you sent me the paper with the cool account 
of myself in it, perhaps you want to know whether or not it is 
true. I have never seen the person in question but once in my 
life, and then I was accompanied by Lord Orford, Mr. Arthur 
Helps, the clerk of the Privy Council, my eldest daughter, and my 
sister-in-law, all of whom know perfectly well that nothing of the sort 
passed. It is a sheer invention of the wildest kind.” (London, 
March 27, 1862). — H 4. 

EDWIN DROOD. 

On 22nd December [1809] he found himself in a dilemma which 
recalled an earlier experience of a like character, and in this instance 
was doubtless the result of excessive alteration and interlineation. 
“ When I had written, and, as I thought, disposed of the first two 
numbers of my story, Clowes informed me to my horror that they 
were, together, twelve pointed pages too short ! ! ! Consequently I 
had to transpose a chapter from No. 2 to No. 1, and remodel No. 2 
altogether.” He confided to Mr. Dolby that the price agreed to be 
paid to him was the largest sum given for any work from his or any 
other hands, namely, £7500 for the copyright, author and publishers 
to share equally in the profit of all sales beyond 25,000 copies ; 
in addition to this the author was to receive £1000 for the advanced 
sheets sent to America. Dickens specially stipulated by deed that 
the publishers (Chapman & Hall) should be reimbursed for any 
possible loss that might accrue to them in the event of his being 
prevented, either by sickness or death, from completing the work — 
the first time, curiously enough, such a clause had been inserted in 
one of his agreements, and sadly pertinent in this case, the sugges- 
tion probably originating in his nervous fear that a return of] his 
Chester illness (partial paralysis) might permanently incapacitate 
him. — K 1 . 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


63 


ATTEMPTS TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY. 

Many pens have been busy in the attempt to trace out the probable 
course of Dickens’s unfinished novel. One of the most notable 
efforts is that of Mr. J. Cuming Waters, Clues to Dickens' s “ Mystery 
of Edwin Drood” (1005). Towards the close of 1907 the circulation 
of the book had a decided fillip given to it by (1) an attempt to show 
that Dickens based the story largely on his personal knowledge of 
the owner of the Baker Street bazaar — T. C. Druce, the alleged 
fifth Duke of Portland ; and (2) on the dramatisation of the story 
by Mr. Comyns Carr. Put briefly, Mr. Carr’s solution is as follows : 
Edwin Drood was not murdered; he lived. Jasper was not his 
murderer. But Jasper, in an opium-inspired dream, passes through 
all the sensations of murdering Drood, and, awaking, is convinced 
he is Drood's slayer ; and till, in his dying moments, he once more 
sees Drood in the ilesh, he retains a belief in his own guilt. 

MR. FILDES AND THE SECRET OF EDWIN DROOD. 

Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., wrote an interesting letter to the Literary 
Supplement of the Times [November 1905], in reply to an article 
in that journal on “ The Mysteries of Edwin Drood.” The letter was 
provoked by the following passage in the article : 

46 Nor do we attach much importance to any of the hints Dickens 
dropped whether to John Forster, to any member of his family, 
or to either of his illustrators. He was very anxious that his secret 
should not be guessed, and the hints which he dropped may very 
well have been intentionally misleading.” 

“ I know ” (writes Mr Fildes) 44 Charles Dickens was very anxious 
that his secret should not be guessed, but it surprises me to read 
that he could be thought capable of the deceit so lightly attributed 
to him. The 4 hints he dropped ’ to me, his sole illustrator — for 
Charles Collins, his son-in-law, only designed the green cover for 
the monthly parts, and Collins told me he did not in the least 
know the significance of the various groups in the design ; that they 
were drawn from instructions personally given by Charles Dickens 
and not from any text — these 4 hints ’ to me wore the outcome of a 
request of mine that he would explain some matters, the meaning of 
which I could not comprehend and which were for me, his illustrator, 
embarrassingly hidden. I instanced in the printers’ rough proof 
of the monthly part sent to mo to illustrate where he particularly 
described John Jasper as wearing a neckerchief of such dimensions 
as to go twice around his neck : 1 called his attention to the circum- 
stance that I had previously dressed Jasper as wearing a little black 
tie once round the neck, and I asked him if he had any special reasons 
for the alteration of Jasper s attire, and, if so, I submitted I ought to 
know. He, Dickens, appeared for a moment to bo disconcerted 
by my remark, and said something meaning ho was afraid he was 
' getting on too fast * and revealing more than he meant at that 
early stage, and after a short silence, cogitating, he suddenly said, 
4 Can you keep a secret ? ’ I assured him he could rely on me. He 



G4 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


then said, 4 1 must have the double necktie ! It is necessary, for 
Jasper strangles Edwin Drood with it.* I was impressed by his 
earnestness, as, indeed, I was at all my interviews with him — also 
by the confidence which he said he reposed in me, trusting that I 
would not in any way refer to it, as ho feared even a chance remark 
might find its \v r av into the 4 papers ’ and thus anticipate his 
* mystery 5 ; and it is a little startling, after more than thirty-five 
years of profound belief in the nobility of character and sincerity 
of Charles Dickens, to bo told now that he probably was more or less 
of a humbug on such occasions.” 

THE FATAL WATCH. 

In his last and fatally interrupted story it will be remembered 
how, after the murder of Edwin Drood, a watch and pin were re- 
covered from the weir. This watch was much insisted upon, with 
the date of its last winding, etc., no doubt with a view to tho chain 
of incidents that were to be linked together later. Dickens deals 
with the incident in quite legal style, and it is evident that much 
was to turn on it. All this had a rather familiar air to me, and there 
came back to my memory a case of murder in which I had been 
concerned professionally some three or four years before. It had 
been first tried without issue ; on the second trial the man was 
convicted and hanged. The chief evidence was tho silent one of a 
watch found in the river Laggan, near Belfast, and which was an 
inducement to tho crime. This dramatic case made a deep im- 
pression on me, and I wrote a highly coloured account for Dickens’s 
journal, where it appeared under the title of 44 The Fatal Watch.” 
Dickens was much struck with it. When he came to deal with the 
murder in his story, this element of tho watch may have suggested 
itself as a new and telling incident . — F 2. 

ORIGINAL OF “ MR. TOPE.” 

Mr. William Miles, the venerable ex-verger of Rochester Cathe- 
dral, who died at Rochester on 23rd March 1008, at the age of 01, 
was a friend of Charles Dickens, and was immortalised by the great 
novelist as 44 Mr. Tope,” in Edwin Drood . Dickens was brought 
into close acquaintance with Mr. Miles, who was associated with 
Rochester Cathedral for the long period of seventy-five years, first 
as a boy chorister at the age of nine, and subsequently as a lay clerk, 
under verger, and dean’s verger. — Daily Chronicle , March 24, 1008. 

RECOVERED WRITINGS. 

The National Edition of the works of Charles Dickens is magnifi- 
cently closed in two volumes containing miscellaneous papers, and 
also plays and poems. The miscellaneous papers have been re- 
covered from the Examiner , Household Words , and All the Year 
Round . They are introduced very ably by Mr. B. W. Matz in a 
preface of high literary interest. Dickens was a frequent contri- 
butor to the Examiner during the editorship of his friend, John 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


65 


Forster, and as far as possible his articles have been found and re- 
printed. Also from the contributor’s book of Household Words , now 
in the possession of Mr. R. C. Lehmann, several new articles have 
been discovered. There are also contributions to All the Year 
Round , identified by F. G. Kitton, by means of the office set of that 
periodical. I do not say that there is anything of startling interest 
in these articles, but those who care for Dickens will be very glad 
to have them. Among the most interesting are two on Scott and 
his publishers, written in 1839. Dickens takes the side of Scott 
with passion, and denounces James Ballantyne very vehemently. 
It might have been mentioned by the editor that George Hogarth, 
Dickens’s father-in-law, was privy to all the transactions between 
Scott and James Ballantyne. No doubt Dickens heard much from 
Hogarth about the business. That Hogarth was once at least on 
friendly terms with James Ballantyne is shown by the fact that he 
gave Ballantyne’8 name to one of his sons. Those who have studied 
the very complicated controversy about the relation of Scott and 
Ballantyne, will certainly say that Dickens goes too far, and that the 
blame must be divided. A very interesting paper is the spirited 
reply by Dickens to the criticism of the Edinburgh Review on Little 
Dorr it. The Edinburgh Review defended the “ Circumlocution 
Office ” by saying that the career of Mr. Rowland Hill did it credit. 
Dickons replied justly enough : “ If the Edinburgh Review could 
seriously want to know ‘ how Mr. Dickens accounts for the- career 
of Mr. Rowland Hill,’ Mr. Dickens w ould account for it by his being 
a Birmingham man of such imperturbable steadiness and strength 
of purpose that the Circumlocution Office by its utmost endeavours 
very freely tried could not weaken his determination, sharpen his 
razor, or break his heart.” There is also a highly curious article on 
Forster’s Life of Land or, in which Dickens frankly admits that 
[>andor is Mr. Boy thorn, and vindicates his portrait. I take two 
significant extracts : “ It is essentially a sad book, and herein lies 
proof of its true worth. The life of almost any man possessing 
groat gifts would be a sad book to himself ; and this book enables us 
not only to see his subject but to be its subject if you will.” “ In 
a military burial ground in India, the name of Walter Landor 
is associated with the present writer's over the grave of a young 
officer. No name could stand there more inseparably associated in 
the writer s mind with the dignity of generosity : with a noble 
scorn of all littleness, all cruelty, oppression, fraud, and false pre- 
tence.” — “ A Man of Kent,” in the British Weekly , February 27,1908. 

DICKENS AND THE “DAILY NEWS.” 

November 4, 1845. — The latest news is that the “ crew ” are 
about to start a daily Radical paper ; Dickens editor, Bradbury & 
Evans proprietors. There is plenty of money, as I am informed. 
This ia no mere renort. I was applied to a few' days back to become 
a contributor, ana terms were stated to be no object. I respect- 
fully declined, The application to me was not direct but through 
a third party. The “ crew ” believe that they can carry the world 

3 



66 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


with them, and have hopes, modest men ! of crushing the Times . 
Dickens is about to publish a new Christmas book. Pray let me 
have the reviewing of it in the Magazine. [Extract of a letter from 
Samuel Phillips to John Blackwood.] — 0. 

The Daily News was established in 1846, chiefly by the influence 
and exertions of Charles Dickens, its first editor, then in his thirty - 
fourth year. He was largely supported by many rich capitalists, 
who had great admiration for his genius, and great faith in the 
power and prestige of his name. I was personally acquainted with 
but one of the non-literary founders of the new journal — the late 
Sir William Jackson, who had made a considerable fortune as a 
railway contractor. That gentleman, many years after Mr. Dickens 
had ceased his brief connection with the paper, informed me, with 
a rueful countenance and a groan, that he had thrown away seven 
thousand pounds on the speculation. “ Yes,” he said, “ seven thou- 
sand pounds in real golden sovereigns ! ” a way of putting it that 
might have led me to suppose, by the very strong emphasis he placed 
on golden , and by his melancholy iteration of the word, that he had 
actually counted out the money sovereign by sovereign, and not 
by cheques on his bankers. It was said at the time that the capital 
invested or ready to be invested in the concern was £100,000; 
but probably nobody knew the truth of the matter except the 
investors and Mr. Dickens himself. Sir John East hope, the chief 
proprietor of the Chronicle , affected not to fear the opposition, 
declaring that Mr. Dickens, anxious above all things to write 
political leaders for the Chronicle , had been so woefully wanting 
in political knowledge and tact, as to have rendered it necessary 
to decline his further services in that capacity. Sir John affirmed 
to the end of his life that the brilliant author was so greatly offended 
with the Morning Chronicle for its want of judgment, that he set up 
the Daily News as a rival, and that if the conductors of the old 
journal had had a greater appreciation of the genius of the rising 
novelist the new journal would never have come into existence. 
Sir John, however, stood alone in his opinion. — M 4. 

The intention was to found a Liberal organ in sympathy with 
free trade and its leaders, Cobden and Bright, opposed "to the con- 
servatism of Sir Robert Peel, and independent of Lord Aberdeen 
in foreign politics. The number of men engaged in various depart- 
ments was large. John Forster and my father [Mr. Eyre Evans 
Crowe, third editor of the Daily News ] were asked to write leaders, 
the first on home, the second on foreign affairs. The editorial 
department was to be in the hands of Mr. Powell, under whom 
Henry Wills and Frederick Hunt were to serve ; Dudley Costello 
was to be foreign sub-editor, Scott Russell railway sub-editor, with 
William Weir as an assistant. A large staff of reporters was engaged, 
under the supervision of Charles Dickens’s father. Blanchard 
Jerrold and Laman Blanchard, young fellows of my age, were to 
report and write theatrical criticisms. Music was to be dealt with 
by Hogarth, Dickens’s father-in-law. My father broke off his 




68 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


connection with the Morning Chronicle*, where my stay as a reporter 
became untenable. On the 1st of January, 1846, the first number 
of the Daily News appeared. I [Sir Joseph Crowe] was transferred 
to the staff of the new journal and sent as an assistant to the Paris 
correspondent — a Frenchman, whose name now escapes me. Nothing, 
unfortunately, could reconcile me to this change. I had not been 
three months away when I felt that the situation was too irksome to 
be borne. I asked my father to order my recall, and in spring (1846) 
I found myself in London again, engaged on the Daily News as a 
reporter for all work at three guineas a week. The Daily News, 
in the meanwhile, had settled down into a new condition. Charles 
Dickens had not been more than a month at the head of the news- 
paper when he discovered that his genius did not fit him for the 
performance of the duty of editor of a great political journal. After 
his resignation the editorial staff came into the hands of John 
Forster. 

The office of the Daily News was in a block of buildings of which 
the principal part belonged to Bradbury & Evans, the well-known 
printers of Whitefriars. The approaches to these buildings were 
from Fleet Street, through an archway which led into a back lane 
parallel to Bouverie Street. In the lane was a publishing office, 
through which there was access to a staircase leading up to two 
storeys of rooms. On the first floor the editor’s sanctum, and a 
smaller place for a leader-writer, where my father dwelt. On the 
second floor, the sub-editors’ room and a spare room ; next door, 
the printing-house, with the engines and presses in the basement ; 
above these the reporters’ room, where old Mr. John Dickens pre- 
sided, and the gallery men and parliamentary shorthand writers 
went in and out and copied their reports. Higher up, a flight of 
wooden stairs leading to the compositors’ quarters. The buildings 
were of all ages, some of them of very tumble -down aspect. They 
remind me even now of those which Charles Dickens loved to 
describe when he wrote of the fog pervading the lanes, penetrating 
the doorways, creeping up the staircases, and lodging in the pipes 
of the inmates. Add to this the worn steps, the soiled cocoa-nut 
matting, the walls that seemed ever to require painting and polish- 
ing, the windows grimed with smoke, the gas, the glare, and the 
smell of oil and paper. The ceaseless noise of presses, moved by 
hand or by steam, produced a busy hum, whilst in the foggy atmo- 
sphere one could see flitting, like ghosts, the forms of men in paper 
caps and dirty shirt-sleeves, wetting paj)er, padding frames, pre- 
siding at the delivery or withdrawal of sheets that slid in and out 
of monstrous machines in all kinds of movement, back and forward 
— sliding, revolving, and jumping . — C 6. 

JOHN DICKENS AS CHIEF REPORTER. 

John Dickens was quite a feature in this pandembnium [the 
Daily News Office]. He was short, portlv, obese, fond of a glass 
of grog, full of fun, never given to much locomotion, but sitting as 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 69 

chairman, and looking carefully to the regular marking and orderly 
dispatch to the printers of the numerous manuscripts thrown off 
at lightning speed by the men from the gallery. It was his habit 
to come down to the office about eight at night, and he invariably 
in albweathers walked down Fleet Street and turned into the passage 
leading into Whitefriars. Every night as regularly as clockwork 
he was relieved of his silk pocket-handkerchief by the thieves of 
the groat neighbouring thoroughfare, and he would deplore the loss 
in feeling terms when he tried to wipe the perspiration from his 
brow ; for it was a peculiarity of his nature that he was always 
hot, whatever the weather might be . — G 6. 

“daily news” jubilee recollections. 

In its issue for 21st January 1896, the story of the Daily News 
was told at great length by Mr. Justin McCarthy and Sir John R. 
Robinson. 'There were special articles by Mr. John Britton, the 
publisher, and other writers, and a facsimile of the first number 
was included in this special issue. The appended extracts are taken 
from the main story as told by Mr. McCarthy and Sir John Robin- 
son : 

The coming of the new journal was announced in the following 
advertisement which appeared in Punch on the 27th of December, 
1845— 

“NEW MORNING PAPER. 

To commence at the- Opening of Parliament, Price Five pence, 

THE DAILY NEWS. 

A Morning Newspaper of Liberal Politics and thorough Inde- 
pendence. 

The leading features of the paper may be briefly stated under 
the following heads : 

Its City News and Commercial Intelligence, collected from the 
highest sources, will be scrupulously impartial and always early ; 

Its Scientific and Business Information on every topic connected 
with Raihvays, whether in actual operation, in progress, or pro- 
jected, will be found to be complete ; 

An extensive system of Foreign Correspondence in all parts of 
the world has been for some time and is now in course of organisa- 
tion ; 

Its Parliamentary Reports, its Law' Reports, and every other 
item of such matter, will bo furnished by gentlemen of the highest 
* qualification ; 

Among the writers of its Leading Articles, its Criticisms on Books, 
the Drama, Music, and the Fine Arts, arosome of tho most distin- 
guished names of this time ; 

The Literary Department of the Daily Neivs will bo under the 
direction of Mr. Charles Dickens. 

The counting-house and office for advertisements intended for 
insertion in the Daily Netv$ will be at No. 90 Fleet Street, London, 



70 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


to which place communications for the Editor should be addressed 
until the publishing offices in Whitefriars shall be completed.” 

No part of the advertisement, except perhaps the announcement 
of the coming of a Liberal daily newspaper in London, excited 
so much public interest as the statement that the literary depart- 
ment of the new journal was to be under the direction of Mr. Charles 
Dickens. The literary department was, of course, understood 
to mean all that comes within the province of an editor, as distinct 
from the commercial department and the work of the compositor. 
Dickens was then by far the most popular author in this country. 
Thackeray had not yet published his Vanity Fair . Carlyle had 
not yet begun to be broadly knowm. The novels of Dickens were 
in every home throughout the country where any reading went on 
at all. Whether the idea w*as his own to begin with, it is not easy 
to find out ; but the probability would seem to be that the project 
came up in his mind, and that he then took other men into his 
confidence. 

Mr. Forster w r as strongly opposed to Dickens’s proposal to under- 
take the work — partly or chiefly because he feared that the strain 
would be too great for Dickens’s health. Nevertheless, as soon as 
it w r as settled that Dickens was to undertake the conduct of the 
paper, Mr. Forster, out of pure loyalty to his friend, consented to 
hold a place on the staff of the journal. Dickens, indeed, brought a 
very powerful staff along with him. From memoranda of agree- 
ments made when the paper was on the eve of being started, we 
learn that W. J. Fox, Douglas Jerrold, John Forster, and Mark 
Lemon w r ere among the first who agreed to serve under him. Among 
the original proprietors of the paper were Messrs. Bradbury & Evans, 
and Mr., afterwards Sir Joseph, Paxton. Mr. Scott Russell, whose 
name has since been known in many a great enterprise, was made 
“ railway editor,” and Dickens allowed him a very free hand in the 
conduct of his department. The first leading article was written 
by Mr. William Johnson Fox, distinguished before and since as 
preacher, platform orator, member of the House of Commons, 
and political wTiter. Douglas Jerrold and Albany Fonblanquc wrote 
leaders, and Charles Mackay contributed poems. 

Dickens flung himself into the work with a thoroughly character- 
istic energy. For months and months he never spared himself. That 
was his nature — that was his way — he could not help it. For 
months and months he was to be found morning, noon, and night 
at the offices which had been engaged for the production of the Daily 
News . He went into every detail of arrangement. He got around 
him a capable and brilliant staff. Journalism was not then paid 
nearly so well in London as it is in our time ; but nevertheless Mr. 
Dickens appears to have made the most liberal arrangements for 
the compensation of all those who worked with him and under him. 
His one idea was to make the Daily News the first really Liberal 
daily paper of England, as complete and well appointed in every 
qualification of English journalism as the very best of those which 
were got up for the use of the classes rather than of the masses. No 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


71 


inferior article was to be offered to the English public. Men were 
not to be invited to take the paper simply because it advocated 
their own political opinions. They were invited to take it because, 
while it did advocate their own political opinions, it was also to be 
the best newspaper, simply regarded as a newspaper, that they 
could get anywhere. This was Mr. Dickens’s idea, and that idea 
he enforced in action. 

Dickens was marvellously fortunate in the choice of some of his 
Correspondents. The first Correspondent at Rome, engaged by 
Dickens himself, was the celebrated Father Prout (Frank Mahony), 
a Catholic clergyman from the city of Cork, who, finding after 
awhile but little vocation for the duties of the priesthood, set out 
for London to make a way into literature — which, indeed, he very 
quickly did. He was then little over forty-one years old. But it 
was his intention to republish his first series of Daily News letters 
under the title of Facts and Figures from Italy , by Don Jeremy 
Savonarola, addressed during the last two winters to Charles Dickens, 
Esq., being an appendix to his Pictures ; meaning, of course, the 
Pictures from Italy. The letters were actually republished under 
this title by Richard Bentley, in 1847. 

In littlo more than four months from the day the paper started 
the whole of Dickens’s connection with the Daily News , even that of 
contributing letters with his signature, ceased. — Daily News , January 
21, 1890. 

THE FIRST NUMBER OF THE “DAILY NEWS.” 

Mr. W. Moy Thomas writes: No. 1 of the Daily News. It is 
a somewhat faded and tattered copy that lies before me, bearing 
date “ Wednesday, January 21, 1840,” but in the right upper corner 
of the front pago is a memorandum in a lady’s hand which invests 
it at once with a special interest — qualities it, indeed, for admission 
into an exhibition of literary and journalistic curiosities. It is 
in the words : “ Brought homo by Charles at two o’clock in the 
morning, January 21st,” and is signed “ Catherine Dickens.” 
“ Charles ” was, of course, the illustrious author of Pickwick , Oliver 
Twist , and The Christinas Carol , and “ Catherine Dickens ” was the 
young wife of the first editor of this journal, who had thus recorded 
the history of this visible symbol of the succevssful launching of the 
new Liberal organ. 1 Other tokens of Charles Dickens meet the eye 
as I turn over the pages. The hand of the author of the American 
Notes is distinctly traceable in a passage in the opening address, 
wherein reference is made to a disposition on the part of the Press, 
“ which only prevails in England and America,” to “ sordid attacks 
upon itself,” and a promise is given to conduct all journalistic dis- 
putes with courtesy and moderation. No one who is aware of the 
style of controversy which was deemed permissible, even in journals 

1 The lady must have been mistaken in the hour ; but this need not 
shake faith in the genuineness of the autograph memorandum, which 
has been confirmed by Miss Georgina Hogarth, the surviving sister of 
Mrs. Dickens, as well as by Mrs. Perugini, the novelist's eldest daughter. 



72 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


of high standing and repute, in the first half of the present century* 
will say that this promise was superfluous. 44 The stamp on news* 
papers,” he continues , 44 is not like the stamp on Universal medicine 
bottles, which licenses anything, however false and monstrous.” 
Graver matters, however, are set forth in this business-like docu- 
ment. “The principles advocated by the Daily News” says the 
address, 44 will be principles of progress and improvement, of educa- 
tion, civil and religious liberty, and equal legislation — principles 
such as its conductors believe the advancing spirit of the time 
requires, the condition of the country demands, and justice, reason, 
and experience legitimately sanction.” 

A more direct indication of the association of Dickens with the 
new paper is found on the sixth page, where there appears the first 
instalment — occupying just two columns — of “ Travelling Letters 
Written on the Road, by Charles Dickens,” describing in his 
picturesque and exhilarating style the incidents of the first day’s 
journey of the writer and his family on the way from Paris to 
Chalons, in a postchaise and four, with jack-booted postilion, in a 
fashion which was then on the very brink of vanishing for evermore. 
Those were times when railway enterprise, which furnished much 
employment to the labouring classes, was at its very height. The 
44 Railway News ” in this number occupies five columns. There 
were, of course, no telegraphic messages. Journalism was still 
limited to the feeble resources of the coach and the steamboat — 
save in so far as the rapidly extending but still very far from com- 
plete network of our railway system offered a speedier mode of 
conveyance. “ At the hour of going to press,” says a notice to tho 
reader, “ our express from Paris had not arrived. The delay has, 
in all possibility, arisen from the stormy weather in the Channel, 
or^from the accident that occurred on Monday night on tho South- 
Eastern Railway.” Under these circumstances, the editor regarded 
no doubt with just pride the fact that a full report appeared on 
the second page of the vast gathering — numbering five thousand 
persons — on the previous evening in St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, 
to hear the controversy between Mr. Cobden and Mr. Wodehouse 
on the great question of the day. It is dated “Norwich, Tuesday, 
lQjp.m.,” is stated to be “ from our own reporters, by special express,” 
and gives in full the speeches of the disputants and ot hers, extending 
altogether to four and a half close columns of type. Side by Side 
with this, in token of the absorbing interest in the struggle, will be 
found in the facsimile a report of meetings of Westminster and 
Marylebone electors to petition for tho total repeal of the Corn Daws, 
held on the day before. Not in prose only did the Daily News 
sustain the cause : for here also will be found tho first of the series 
of ‘^Voices of the Crowd,” written for this paper by Dr. Charles 
Mackay. It is entitled “ The Wants of the People,” and begins : 

44 What do we want ? Our daily bread, 

Leave to earn it by our skill ; 

Leave to labour freely for it, 

Leave to buy it where we will.” 



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FACSIMILE OF DICKENS’S HANDWRITING 


73 



74 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Articles of more general interest are represented almost exclusively 
by the “ Travelling Letters ” of Dickens. There is, it is true, a long 
article on music, but it has no direct relation to anything then going 
on in the musical world at home ; though the renowned M. 
Jullien was then capering and flourishing his ivory baton in the 
orchestra at his Promenade Concerts in Covent Garden Theatre. 
For tokens of the condition of the drama in 1846 we have to go to 
the public announcements, which — since advertisements are never 
lacking to the first number of a new paper — are probably exhaustive. 
Dickens must have regarded with mixed feelings the fact that out 
of the six theatres here represented, no fewer than four were playing 
versions of his latest Christmas story, The Cricket on the Hearth , 
for in those days the unauthorised adapter flourished unchecked. 
The houses referred to were the Haymarket, the Lyceum, the 
Adelphi, and the Princess’s. 

Still rarer than an original copy of No. 1 of the Daily News is a 
copy of the fictitious or “ dummy ” number, which, in accordance 
with the customary practice, was prepared a day or two earlier, 
with the object of testing by a sort of private rehearsal the com- 
pleteness of the arrangements of the printing office. It is dated 
Monday, 19th January 1846, and is mainly composed of debates, 
news, and messages, apparently made up, for the most part, from 
other papers. It has, however, a somewhat incoherent description 
of the execution of the murderer Tapping at Newgate, evidently 
from the pen of Charles Dickens — for it foreshadows his eloquent 
three letters on Capital Punishment which appeared a few weeks 
later, as well as his letters on the hanging of the Mannings, husband 
and wife — together with a humorous leading article, in which his 
hand is no less manifestly traceable. The latter takes the form of an 
indignant protest against the supposed conduct of a jury at the Old 
Bailey in acquitting, by a verdict of “Justifiable Homicide,” “a 
person named Jones, said to be of prepossessing and modest exterior,” 
on an indictment for “ wilfully and maliciously occasioning the death 
of five bricklayers, seven carpenters, two furniture -warehouse 
porters, three painters, and a plasterer.” The person named Jones 
is stated to have lured the unfortunate men to the performance in 
certain premises in Whitefriars of various feats of bodily strength 
and supernatural muscular exertion, to which they fell an untimely 
sacrifice. The trial, I need hardly say, was purely imaginary, the 
burlesque comment being written for the amusement of the author’s 
colleagues and coadjutors, who were aware of the haste and pressure 
under which Mr. Jones, who was the master printer, had been 
induced at short notice to undertake the work of preparing the rooms 
and offices in Bouverie Street for the reception of the editor and his 
staff. An interest now lies in the fact of its being an unknown skit 
by Dickens, albeit its humour and significance have in great degree 
evaporated . — Daily News, January 21, 1896. 

Among the stories of the projection and establishment of London 
papers, that of the Daily News has never been completely told. 
The first number is dated 21st January 1846. It is curious to see 



HIS LITERACY LIFE. 


75 

a daily paper without any telegrams. It was thought a great 
thing to have received from Paris on the 21st of January advices 
as late as the 19th. A day or two previous to the issue of the first 
Daily News a specimen number was written, printed, and published 
in due form to test the efficiency of the organisation and machinery. 
Notwithstanding this, it appears from the good-humoured protest 
of “ A Subscriber,’* in the second number, that the arrangements 
were by no means perfect. Tho letter is interesting, since it is 
known that Mr. Charles Dickens wrote it, as well as the editorial 
rejoinder by which it was accentuated: 

“ To the Editor of the Daily Neivs : 

“ Sir, — Will you excuse my calling your attention to a variety 
of typographical errors in your first number ? Several letters 
are standing on their heads, and several others seem to have gone 
out of town ; while others, like people who are drawn from the 
militia, appear by deputy, and are sometimes very oddly repre- 
sented. 1 have an interest in the subject, as I intend to be, if you 
will allow me, Your Constant Reader. 

“ January 21, 1846.” 

“ We can assure our good-humoured correspondent that we 
are quite conscious of the errors he does us the favour to point 
out so leniently. Tho very many inaccuracies and omissions in 
our first impression are attributable to the disadvantageous circum- 
stances attending the production of a first number. They will not 
occur, we trust, in any other. — Ed. Daily News.” 

Dickens, during the six months [this would include the pre- 
li m inary arrangements] of his editorship, was active in engaging 
contributors right and left. Money flowed from the proprietary 
coffers “ like water.” A railway editor was engaged at two thou- 
sand pounds a year. There were foreign, colonial, and heaven 
knows what editors besides. Bradbury & Evans supplied the capital. 
Ultimately Mr. 0. W. Dilke, ... on becoming manager, reduced 
things to older, though if it was upon his recommendation that the 
price of the paper was lowered to 2.U1., his wits must have been 
asleep for once. In those days the heavy paper and advertisement 
duties made it impossible for a journal to be sold profitably under 
5d. per copy. The object of the Daily News for some time seemed 
to be to constitute itself a popular Times . The leading journal was 
not then the champion of freedom it is now. — 11 2. 

DICKENS AND u PUNCH.” 

It is erroneously supposed that the late Charles Dickens wrote 
regularly for Punch . There is among Mark Lemon’s papers an 
article signed Charles Dickens, on tl^e outside of which is written, 
44 My sole contribution to Punch.” The idea that Dickens was 
on the staff of Punch originated, no doubt, through the intimacy 
which so long existed between the two men. Scarcely a day passed 
at one period of their lives without they met each other at their 



7G 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


own houses. They frequently spent evenings at home together, 
or at some place of public amusement. They generally devoted 
one or two evenings in the week to what Mark called a London 
ramble, which was frequently an excursion to the East End, 
“ picking up characters ” at minor theatres, circuses, and other 
places of resort in the wildest districts of the wildest parts of the 
metropolis. Charles Dickens, Clarkson Stanfield the painter, 
and Mark Lemon often made excursions of this kind in company, 
conversing with any persons whom they might care to know, and 
thus gaining a fund of information which was afterwards profitably 
employed. Many passages in Dickens’s works, considered far- 
fetched and overdrawn, may be traced to scenes in real life witnessed 
during these London rambles. It was Lemon who planned the 
excursions, as is shown by Dickens’s letters. When Dickens 
lived at Tavistock House, Lemon lived close by in Cordon Square ; 
and notes, letters, and reminders of appointments were continually 
passing from one house to the other. In later days, owing to 
Dickens’s business severance from Bradbury & Evans, and certain 
family troubles, a coolness rose between Lemon and his illustrious 
neighbour ; but there was a revival of something like the old friend- 
ship a year or two prior to Dickens’s death . — H 2. 

Charles Dickens is supposed to have contributed to Punch in 
the year 1849 an article entitled “ Dreadful Hardships Endured 
by the Shipwrecked Crew of the London, Chiefly for Want of 
Water” — a criticism on the scandalous condition of the suburban 
water-supply. Mr. F. G. Kitton has examined the original manu- 
script preserved by Mrs. Mark Lemon in her autograph album. 
Mr. Hatton found it among Lemon’s papers, bearing on the outside, 
in the Editor’s handwriting, the inscription, “ Dickens’ only con- 
tribution to Punch.” But the alleged contribution is absolutely 
undiscoverable in the pages of the paper. The explanation is, 
in Mr. Kitton’ a words, that “ about the time the manuscript was 
written, several pictorial allusions to foul water in suburban London 
appeared in Punch , which bear directly upon the subject of Dickens’s 
protest, and it is surmised that the Editor, on the receipt of Dickens’s 
contribution, considered that greater prominence would be given 
to the matter to which they referred by means of a cartoon than by 
a few lines of text. Hence we find the rebuke enforced by the 
pencil of the artist, instead of the mere literary lashing which 
Dickens intended to inflict upon that particular public grievance. 
It may safely be suggested that this was the only occasion on 
which, after his reputation was made, Dickens was ever “ declined 
with thanks.” This MS., it may bo added, was sold at Sotheby’s 
on 9th July 1889, and was knocked down for £16 . — 8 3. 

Once, by the hand of Le&h, Dickens made an appearance in 
Punch , and, curiously enough, only once. This was in the drawing 
of the awful appearance of a “ wopps ” at a picnic (p. 76, vol 
xvii.), where the novelist appears as the handsome, but not very 



HIS LITERARY LIFE 


77 ' 


striking, youth attendant on the young lady who is overcome at 
the distressing situation. It must be admitted that the portrait is 
hardly recognisable. — S 3. 

AS MAGAZINE EDITOR. 

As an editor Dickens was most painstaking and conscientious : 
outside contributors, whose articles had passed the first critical 
ordeal of Mr. Wills’s judgment, and had been referred to “ the 
Chief,” received thoroughly impartial attention from him, while 
for his friends he could not take too much trouble or show too 
much interest. — Y. 

Just about then [1851-3], appeared the first numbers of House- 
hold Words , which 1 devoured with extreme eagerness, and the 
early volumes of which still appear to me, after a tolerably wide 
experience of such matters, to be perfect models of what a magazine 
intended for general reading should be. In them, besides the 
admirable work done by Dickens himself — and he never was better 
than in his concentrated essays — tl ere were the dawning genius 
of Sala, which had for mo a peculiar fascination ; the novels of 
Mrs. Gaskell ; the antiquarian lore of Peter Cunningham and 
Charles Knight; the trenchant criticism of Forster; the first- 
fruits of Wilkie Collins’s unrivalled plot-weaving ; the descriptive 
powers of R. H. Horne, who as a prose-writer was terse and practi- 
cal ; the poetic pathos of Adelaide Procter ; the Parisian sketches 
of Blanchard Jerrold ; the singularly original “ Roving English- 
man ” series of Grenville Murray; the odd humour of Henry 
Spicer. — Y. 

Dickens always considered the regular contributors to House - 
hold Words and to All the Year Rou nd as connected with him in 
a manner much more closely than as ordinary professional or purely 
business connections. “My brothers” was his favourite phrase; 
and when Miss Adelaide Anne Procter died he wrote for the beauti- 
ful Legends and Lyrics , which her family published as an in 
memoriam volume, a most touching preface. This passage explains 
how he came to know the daughter of “ Barry Cornwall ” : 

“ In the spring of the year 1853, I observed, as Conductor of the 
weekly journal Household Words , a short poem among the proferred 
contributions, very different, as I thought, from the shoal of verses 
perpetually passing through the office of such a periodical, and 
possessing much more merit. Its authoress was quite unknown 
to me. She was one Miss Mary Berw ick, whom I had never heard 
of ; and she was to be addressed by letter, if addressed at all, at a. 
circulating library in the western district of London. Through 
this channel. Miss Berw ick was informed that her poem was ac- 
cepted, and was invited to send another. She complied, and became* 
a regular and frequent contributor.* Many letters passed betw r een 
the journal and Miss Berwick, but Miss Berwick herself was never 
seen. How we came gradually to establish, at the office of House-* 
hold Words 9 that we knew all about Miss Berwick, I have nevej^ 



78 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


discovered. But we settled, somehow, to our complete satis- 
faction, that she was governess in a family ; that she went to 
Italy in that capacity, and returned ; and that she had long been 
in the same family. We really knew nothing whatever of her, 
except that she was remarkably" business-like, punctual, self- 
reliant, and reliable: so I suppose we insensibly invented the 
rest. For myself, my mother was not a more real personage to 
me than Miss Berwick the governess became. This went on until 
December 1854, when the Christmas number, entitled The Seven Poor 
Travellers , was sent to press. Happening to be going to dine that 
day with an old and dear friend, distinguished in literature as Barry 
Cornwall, ! took with me an early proof of the number, and remarked, 
as I laid it on the drawing-room table, that it contained a very 
pretty poem, written by a certain Miss Berwick. Next day brought 
me the disclosure that I had so spoken of the poem to the mother 
of its writer, in its writer's presence ; that 1 had no such corre- 
spondent in existence as Miss Berwick ; that the name had been 
assumed by Barry Cornwall’s eldest (laughter. Miss Adelaide Anne 
Procter.” — // 4. 

Among the “ might have bcens ” of these early years must be 
mentioned a poetic career. From my earliest years 1 had been an 
indefatigable rhymester, and an exhilarating accident well-nigh 
turned the scale, poetry instead of romance kicking the beam. An 
incident that came under my notice suggested the poem entitled 
“ The Golden Bee.” With the audacity of youth 1 dispatched it 
to the great Dickens, then editing his Household Words, After 
some time came a cheque for £5 and a number of the magazine 
containing my contribution. Five pounds for the artless rhymes 
of a little country girl— was not this half the price of Paradise. 
Lost ? But overwhelming as seemed the payment, the approbation 
of Charles Dickens was guerdon far more prized. And “ The Golden 
Bee” has not falsified the master’s judgment. It is now a stock 
piece at Penny Headings, and, like “ The White House by the Sea,” 
has long survived a generation ! — Reminiscences , by M. Betham- 
Edwards. 

By the year 1862 she (Mrs. Linton) had lost touch with all the 
editors for whom she had been regularly working, with the sole 
exception of Charles Dickens. Indeed, had it not been for All the 
Year Round, her literary output for this year would have been 
just one article in Temple Bar. 

All the Year Round, it wall be remembered by those familiar with 
the life of Dickens, was the magazine which had been started by 
him in 1859 after the dispute with Messrs. Bradbury & Evans, 
which had resulted in the discontinuance of Household Words. 
Mrs. Linton, who had been a regular contributor to the latter, was, 
immediately on its abandonment, approached by the editor of 
Once a Week , Messrs. Bradbury & Evans’s new illustrated venture. 
Here she found herself on the horns of a dilemma. Either she must 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


79 


refuse what was a valuable offer, or run the risk of appearing dis- 
loyal to Dickens, to whom she had much reason to be grateful. She 
thereupon wrote to him explaining the situation, and asking whether 
he saw any objection to her writing for the opposition periodical. 
Dickens, who undoubtedly felt very bitter on the subject of the 
rival publication, replied that she could not write too much for 
All the Year Round ; that whatever she wrote for him would as a 
matter of course be warmly welcomed ; and that her contribu- 
tions should always have precedence in his magazine. Forthwith 
she became his faithful lieutenant, and refused all the tempting 
offers of his rivals. Notwithstanding their long literary connection, 
Mrs. Linton saw but little of her great contemporary. — L 3. 

On Saturday, 30th March 1850, was issued the first number 
of Household Words , price 2d., conducted by Charles Dickens. 
No article had the name of the author appended, and when the 
4k Conductor ” proposed to Jerrold that he should contribute to its 
pages, but added that his name could not appear, as the journal 
was anonymous, the wit replied, “ Ay, I see it is, for there’s the 
name of Charles Dickens on every page .” — II 4. 

DICKENS’S “ YOUNG MAN.” 

Mr. John Hollingshead was known to everybody at Household 
Words office in the old time at Wellington Street, in the Strand, 
as Dickens’s “ Young Man.” Mr. Hollingshead. who was a city 
clerk, forwarded, in the mid-fifties, through Moy Thomas, an article 
on “ Life at a City Eating-House.” Dickens was highly pleased with 
the subject and the way it was treated, and told Thomas, his 
friend, to send in more. Hollingshead’s articles quite delighted the 
editor with their graphic description and clear incisive st}de. The 
articles on 44 Underground London ” and “ Odd Journeys ” (such 
were their titles when reprinted in book form) underwent the 
editorial scrutiny, and won great approval from it. Hollingshead, 
from his practical training in commercial life, shrewd sense, and 
ready wit, became a favourite with the editor. Anything requiring 
promptitude and enterprise found Hollingshead told off for the 
event, and he always well acquitted himself. Indeed, so well, 
that Dickens used to speak of him as 4 4 My Young Man.” — Household 
Words , March 26, 1004. 

OFFICE RELICS. 

The Dickens relics from the novelist’s private office at 20 Welling- 
ton Street, Strand* where he edited All the Year Round , were in- 
cluded in a sale at Sotheby’s in 1002. There were the office table 
and chair, the looking-glass, and the high -backed cane chair, which 
were in daily use by Dickens for many years. They were given 
by the novelist’s son to the housekeeper, Mrs. Heddcrly, from whom 
they were bought by the late Henry Walker. They were afterwards 
in the custody of Mr. Walker’s son-in-law, at Bromley, Kent. 



80 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


AS A POET. 

To most of us the poetry of Dickens means that poem in the sixth 
^chapter of Pickwick, the last stanza of which runs : 

“ Whole ages have fled and their works decayed, 

And nations have scattered been ; 

But the stout old Ivy shall never fade, 

From its hale and hearty green. 

The brave old plant, in its lonely days, 

Shall fatten upon the past : 

For the stateliest building man can raise 
Is the Ivy’s food at last. 

Creeping on, where time has been, 

A rare old plant is the Ivy green.’’ 

The two recently added volumes, however, in the Gad’s Hill 
Edition, entitled Miscellaneous Papers (Chapman & Hall), include 
several other poems by the great novelist, besides the more famous 
“ Ivy Green.” 

Of these, two were recently discovered through the medium of 
the Contributors’ Book to Household Words. The first was “ Hiram 
Power’s Greek Slave”; the second, entitled “Aspire!” 1 quote in 
full: 

“ Aspire ! whatever fate befall. 

Be it prai.se or blame--- 
Aspire! even when deprived of al! 

It is thy nature’s aim. 

Tho seed beneath the frozen earth. 

When winter checks the fresh green birth, 

Still yearningly aspires. 

With ripening desires. 

And, in its season, it will shoot 
Up into the perfect fruit ; 

But had it not lain low. 

It ne’er had learn’d to grow. 

Aspire ! for in thyself alone 
That power belongs of right ; 

Within thyself that seed is sown. 

Which strives to reach the light; 

All pride of rank, all pomp of place, 

All pinnacles that point in space, 

But show thee, to tho spheres, 

No greater than thy peers ; 

But if thy spirit doth aspire. 

Thou risest ever higher — higher- — 

Towards that consummate end, 

When Heavenward we tend.” 

Dickens wrote the prologues for two plays by Wilkie Collins — 
The Lighthouse and The Frozen Deep. To Wilkie Collins’s The 
Lighthouse Dickens also contributed “ The Song of the Wreck,” 
which was sung by Mary, his eldest daughter, who took the part of 




cHAHi.i:?i i>i< kens IN 1802 
Kny raved from the photo by Clandct 


ax 



82 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Phoobe in the play. The poems, “ A* Child’s Hymn,” from the 
Wreck of the Golden Mary , and “ The Blacksmith,” are also included 
in the Gad’s Hill Edition.— “ T. P. ” in T.P.'s Weekly , June 5, 1908. 

To the foregoing may be added Dickens’s “ Hymn of the Wilt- 
shire Labourers,” which appeared originally in the Daily News on 
14th February 1846. It was suggested by some words of Lucy 
Simpkins, a poor Wiltshire labouring woman, who often spoke at 
open-air meetings of the distressed agricultural labourers, and whose 
rude, unlettered eloquence had attracted much attention. It was 
Lucy Simpkins whose exclamation, “ They do say we be purtected. 
If we be purtected we be staarved,” was taken up and repeated 
in the papers and at meetings throughout the kingdom. — E d. 

HYMN OF THE WILTSHIRE LABOURERS. 

“ Don’t you all think that we have a great need to cry to our God 
..to put it in the hearts of our greassous Queen and her Members of Parlia- 
ment to grant us free bread ? ” — Lucy Simpkins, at Bremhill. 

“ 0 God, who by Thv Prophet’s hand 
Didst smite the rooky brake. 

Whence water came, at Thy command, 

Thy people's thirst to slake ; 

Strike, now, upon this granite wall, 

Stern, obdurate, and hieh ; 

And let some drops of pity fall 
For us, who starve and die. 

O God, who took a little child, 

And set him in the midst. 

And promised him Thy merev mild. 

As by Thy Son Thou didst ; 

Look down upon our children dear, 

So gaunt, so cold, so spare, 

And let their images appear 
Where Lords and Gentry are ! 

O God, teach them to feel how we, 

When our poor infants droop. 

Are weakened in our trust in Thee, 

And how our spirits stoop; 

For in Thy rest, so bright and fair, 

All tears and sorrows sleep. 

And their young looks, so full of care. 

Would make Thine Angels weep ! 

O God, who with Thy finger drew, 

The judgment coming on, 

Write, for these men, what must ensue, 

Ere many years be gone ! 

O God, whose bow T is in the sky, 

Let them brave not and dare 
Until they look (too late) on high, 

And see An Arrow there 1 



HIS LITERARY LIFE. 


83 


O God, remind them ! In the bread 
They break upon the knee, 

These sacred words may yet be read, 

‘ In memory of Me.’ 

O God, remind them ! of His sweet 
Compassion for the poor, 

And how lie gave them Bread to eat, 
And went from door to door ! ” 


AS A LITERARY CRITIC. 

Dickens was, if should be said, not only George Eliot’s literary 
admirer, but the first discoverer of her sex and actual identity. The 
former revealed itself to him in the description of Hetty Sorrel 
at her looking-glass. The latter was thus humorously intimated 
in a letter which I have seen from his daughter to Edmund Yates : 
“ Papa declares Adam Bede's writer to be either Bradbury or Evans, 
and lie doesn’t think it’s Bradbury.” — Platform , Press , Politics , and 
Play , by T. II . S. Escott. 

In his chapter on the painting of Dickens’s portrait, in My 
Autobiography , the late W. P. Frith, R.A., describes very pleasantly 
his experiences with Dickens as a sitter, and gives the following 
interesting anecdote of another great contemporary of the nove- 
list : “ On one of the few occasions on which I got to work before him, 
I saw upon the table a paper parcel with a letter on the top of it. 
From the shape I guessed that it contained books, as the event 
proved. Presently Dickens came in, read the letter, and handed it 
to me, saying : 4 Here you are again ! This is the kind of thing I am 
subject to : people send me their books, and what is more, they 
require me to read them ; and what is almost as bad, demand my 
opinion of them. Read that.’ I obeyed, and read what appeared 
to me a very well-written appeal to the great master in the art, 
of which the writer was a very humble disciple, etc., begging for 
his perusal of the accompanying work, and his judgment upon it, 
and so on. The work was Adam Bede , and the writer’s name was 
George Eliot. Dickens took up one of the volumes, looked into it, 
and said : * Seems clever — a good style ; suppose I must read it.’ 
And read it he did that very day, for the next morning he said: 
4 That’s a very good book, indeed, by George Eliot. But, unless I 
am mistaken, G. Eliot is a woman.’ ” — F 6. 

Four letters written by Charles Dickens in 1864, on the question 
of a national monument to Shakespeare, brought £15 at Sotheby’s 
on 13th July 1009. Dickons w r roto very strongly. “ I dread the 
notion of a statue ; moreover, I shiver and tremble at the thought of 
another graven image in some public place. Lastly, I believe that 
Shakespeare has left his monument in his works, "and is best left 
without any other.” He goes on to suggest that, if anything were 
done, let the Government ‘ found scholarships in his name in all the 
arts.”— Daily Telegraphy July 14, 1000. 



84 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


DICKENS AND THE WRITING OF BIOGRAPHY. 

A wholesome and authentic picture of theatrical ldo, and of the 
clown’s life in particular, is to be found in the delightful pages of 
Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi , edited by “ Boz.” Dickens is said 
to have held this work in very light estimation, and to have spoken 
of the material which in general composed it as “ twaddle,” but the 
warmth with which he resented an objection to his handling the 
subject, on the ground that he could never have seen Grimaldi, 
shows that it must have had a place in his affections. “ I under- 
stand,” he wrote, “ that a gentleman unknown is going about this 
town, privately informing all ladies and gentlemen of discontented 
natures, that, on a comparison of dates and putting together of 
many little circumstances which occur to his great sagacity, he has 
made the profound discovery that I can never have seen Grimaldi, 
whose life I have edited, and that the book must therefore of necessity 
be bad. Now’, although I was brought up from remote country 
parts in the dark ages of 1819 and 1820 to behold the splendour 
of Christmas pantomimes and the humour of Joe, in whose honour, 
I am informed, I clapped my hands with great precocity, and 
although I even saw* him act in the remote times of 1823 ; yet as I 
had not then aspired to the dignity of a tail coat, though forced 
by a relentless parent into my first pair of boots, 1 am willing, w ith 
the view T of saving this honest gentleman further time and trouble, 
to concede that I had not arrived at man’s estate when Grimaldi, 
left the stage, and that my recollections of his acting are, to my 
loss, but shadowy and imperfect. Which confession I now make 
publicly, and without mental qualification or reserve, to all whom 
it may concern. But the deduction of this pleasant gentleman, 
that therefore the Grimaldi book must be bad, I must take leave to 
doubt. I don’t think that to edit a man’s biography, from his own 
notes, it is essential you should have known him, and I don’t 
believe that Lord Braybrooke had more than the very slightest 
acquaintance with Mr. Pepys, whose memoirs lie edited two centuries 
after he died .” — P 2. 



IV 


ON THE PLATFORM 

It appears to have been the success of the readings given by him 
in aid of the Douglas Jerrold Fund in the summer of 1857 that first 
suggested to Dickens the possibility of giving public readings for 
his own benefit. There were, in all, four series of public readings : 
(I) In 1858-0, under the management of Mr. Arthur Smith ; (2) in 
1801-3, under Mr. Headland's management; (3) in 1866-7, and 
(4) in 1868-70, the third and fourth being managed by Mr. George 
Dolby on behalf of Messrs. Chappell. The tour in America began 
at Boston in November 1867, and ended at New York in the follow- 
ing April. The first reading in London was at St. Martin’s Hall. 

Dickens, it should be noted, edited the stories and portions of 
stories which he read in public. A reprint of the text used by him 
at his readings in England and the United States was published by 
Chapman & Hall in 1007 uith an introduction by Mr. John 
Hollingshead. 

“ TOOK THE COUNTRY BY STORM.” 

The first scries of readings absolutely took the country by storm, 
Dickens meeting with the greatest personal a flection and respect 
wherever he went. In Dublin there was almost a riot. People 
broke the pay-box, and freely offered £5 for a stall. In Belfast he 
had enormous audiences, being compelled, he said, to turn half the 
town away. The reading over, the people ran after him to look at 
him. 44 Do me the honour,” said one, 44 to shake hands, Mistlier 
Dickens, and God bless you, sir ; not ounly for the light you’ve been 
to me this night, but to the light you’ve been to mee house, sir 
(and God bless your face !), this many a year.” Men cried un- 
disguisodly . — M 2. 

ENTHUSIASM IN LONDON. 

There was a considerable amount of anxiety among Dickens’s 
intimate friends lest the indignation caused by the publication of 
the 44 statement ” [published in Household Words , relative to his 
separation from his wife], and still existing among a section of the 
public, might find vent on his first appearance on the platform. 
Arthur Smith, his manager, a timid man by nature, was especially 

85 



86 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


nervous ; bub X do not think Dickens was made acquainted with the 
feelings of some of those by whom he was surrounded. But the 
moment Dickens stepped on to the platform, walking rather stiffly, 
right shoulder well forward, as usual, bud in button-hole, and gloves 
in hand, all doubt was blown into the air. Ho was received with a 
roar of cheering which might have been heard at Charing Cross, 
and which was again and again renewed. Whatever he may have 
felt, Dickens showed no emotion. Ho took his place at his reading- 
desk, and made a short prefatory speech, in which ho said that, 
though he had read one of his books to a London audience more than 
once, this was the first time he had ventured to do so professionally ; 
that he had considered the matter, and saw no reason against his 
doing so, either in deterioration of dignity or anything else ; and 
that, therefore, he took his place on the platform with as much 
composure as he should at his own desk. Then he opened, his book, 
and commenced. The book was The Cricket on the Ilearth , now 
read for the first time. There was no doubt of its interest and 
attraction to the audience present — ordinary upper ard lower 
middle-class people. From first to last they sat in rapt suspense, 
broken only by outbursts of laughter and applause ; and at the 
conclusion the vehement cheering was renewed. The success of the 
readings was assured. — Y . 

AFFECTION SHOWN IN THE PROVINCES. 

At the end of July [1858] Dickens, accompanied by Arthur Smith, 
started on a provincial tour, commencing at Clifton on 2nd 
August. On ‘4th August he wrote me from Plymouth : “ We 
had a most noble night at Exeter last night, and turned numbers 
away. Arthur is something between a Home Secretary and a 
furniture dealer in Rathbone Place. He is either always corre- 
sponding in the genteele^t manner, or dragging rout-seats about 
without his coat.” And again, in a letter dated from the Adelphi 
Hotel, Liverpool, 21st August, he says : “ A wonderful house iiere 
last night, and the largest in money we have ever had. including 
St. Martin’s TIall. There were 2300 people and 200 guineas. The 
very books were all sold out early in the evening; and Arthur, 
bathed in checks, took headers into tickets, floated on billows of 
passes, dived under weirs of shillings, staggered homo faint with 
gold and silver.” 

Thenceforward all was plain sailing. Those “ peculiar relations 
(personally affectionate, and like no other man’s) which subsist 
between mo and the public,” of which Dickens had spoken in his 
capacity as author, stood him in good stead in his new venture. 
He was received everywhere with the greatest personal affection and 
respect, and his receipts were enormous. — Y. 

In March of 1858, Dickens visited Edinburgh to read his Christmas 
Cared to upwards of two thousand members of the Philosophical 
Institute there. After the reading was over, the Lord Provost 
presented him wdth a splendid silver wassail bowl. Dickens, in 



ON THE PLATFORM. 


87 


replying, said: “The first great public recognition and en- 
couragement I ever received was bestowed on me by your generous 
and magnificent city. To come to Edinburgh is to me like coming 
home.” — // 4. 

During October, 1859, Dickens gave readings at the Town Hall, 
Oxford, and attracted large audiences. On one occasion the Prince 
of Wales, then entering on his career as an Oxonian, was present, 
and expressed considerable satisfaction at the pleasure he had 
experienced in hearing him reach — 11 4. 

“ ASTOUNDING RETURNS.” 

Rest became an absolute necessity before the London readings 
in March [ISO'i]. The financial results, however, seemed to have 
compensated Dickens for these disadvantages. “ The money returns 
have been quite astounding. Think of £190 a night I ” This was 
in April, and on 28th June he said, “ I finished my readings on 
Friday night to an enormous hall — nearly £200.” He had an offer 
from Australia to read there for eight months, for a sum of £10,000. — 
K 1. 

THE THIRD TOUR. 

The result of the negotiations with Messrs. Chappell was that Mr. 
Dickens agreed to give thirty readings in London, the provinces, or 
elsewhere, in consideration of the firm paying him the sum of £1500 
for the course ; they undertaking all responsibility and trouble, 
and paying all expenses, personal and otherwise, in connection with 
the tour. . . . The sum stipulated for — namely £1500 — was to be 
paid as follows : £500 on the first reading, £500 on the fifteenth, 
and £500 on the termination of the agreement. On the completion 
of the tour the gross receipts amounted to nearly £5000. Such a 
success was all the more gratifying as Mr. Dickens had, with that 
consideration for the masses which ever characterised his actions, 
stipulated, at the commencement of t he engagement, that shilling 
seat-holders should have as good accommodation as those who were 
willing to pay higher sums for their evening's enjoyment ; 44 for,” 
said* he, 44 I have been the champion and the friend of the working- 
man all through my career, and it would be inconsistent, if not 
unjust, to put any difficulty in the way of his attending my 
readings.”— D. 

A PRIVATE REHEARSAL. 

No time was lost in arranging the opening reading, which was 
given at St. James's Hall, London, on Tuesday evening, 10th April 
1866. Independently of the interest created by the appearance of 
Mr. Dickens on the platform as a public reader, there was much 
excitement when it became generally known that he had decided 
upon reading “ Doctor Marigold ” for the first time on this occasion. 
This reading, like all the others, had been most carefully prepared ; 
and, in order to test its suitability for its purpose, a private rehearsal 



$8 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


was given on 18th March at Southwick Place, Hyde Park, in a 
furnished house which Mr. Dickens had taken for the season. The 
audience consisted of the members of his family, and Mr. Robert 
Browning, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Charles Fechter, Mr. John Forster, 
Mr. Arthur Chappell, Mr. Charles Kent, and myself. It is hardly 
necessary to say that the verdict was unanimously favourable. 
Everybody was astonished by the extraordinary ease and fluency 
with which the patter of the “ Cheap Jack ” was delivered, and the 
subtlety of the humour which pervaded the wdiolo presentation. 
To those present, the surprise was no less great than the results wore 
pleasing ; indeed, it is hard to see how it could well have been 
otherwise, for seldom in the world’s history do we find a man gifted 
with such extraordinary powers, and, at tho same time, possessed 
of such a love of method, such will, such energy, and such a capacity 
for taking pains. An example of this is the interesting fact that, 
although to many of his hearers at that eventful rehearsal of “ Doctor 
Marigold,” it w as the first time it had been read, Mr. Dickens had, 
since its appearance as a Christmas number, only three months 
previously, adapted it as a reading, and had rehearsed it to himself 
considerably over two hundred times — and this in addition to his 
ordinary w ork. — D. 

ABERDONIAN CAUTION. 

The reading at Aberdeen in May 1866, though a success from 
a monetary point of view*, was peril aps the least enthusiastically 
received of any given before or since ; a fact which may be accounted 
for by the remark of the local agent when I questioned him about 
the probability of success : “ Wcel, Misther Doalby, I’m no pra- 
pared t’ state positively what yewr actiel receats ’ll be, for ye see, 
sir, amangst ma ain freends there are vairy few v/ha ha’ iver haird 
o’ Cliairles Dickens.” — D. 

A MISTAKE AT BIRMINGHAM. 

Dickens arranged to read at Birmingham [May 1866] “ Doctor 
Marigold,” and the Trial from Pickwick. From some unaccount- 
able cause, in going on for the second reading, Mr. Dickens took 
the wrong book to the platform with him, and before I had time 
to stop him he was well on with the story of Nicholas Nickleby at 
Mr. Squeers’ school. There was nothing for it but to let the reading 
proceed, as proceed it did, to the end, with perfect success. The 
immense audience, numbering 2100 people, remained seated, and 
the mistake that had been made was pointed out to Mr. Dickens 
by Mr. Wills ; whereupon, with characteristic generosity, ho at 
once retunled to the platform, and in one of his appropriate and 
good-humoured speeches, explained the accident to the audience, 
and put it to the vote, by a show of hands, whether they would like, 
after listening to him for two hours, to hear him for another half- 
hour in the Trial from Pickwick . To use his own words whenever 
he told the story against himself, " they did like,” as the ringing 



ON THE PLATFOBM 


8 » 


cheer of approval with which the little speech was received amply 
testified. So after two hours’ hard work, he buckled to once more, 
and amidst uproarious merriment read the famous “ Trial.” — D. 

Mr. Henry Wills, in a letter to his wife, thus refers to the incident : 

“ We had the pleasure of meeting a small party of 2100 friends- 
at the Town Hall last night. They enjoyed “ Doctor Marigold ” 
immensely. Pickwick to follow. Just figure my amazement 
when Dickens, instead of commencing ‘ On the morning of the 
great trial, Bardell versus Pickwick,’ opened Nickleby ! I ran 
out to Dolby (the manager), knowing Dickens’s exactitude, and 
mistrusting my own ears, to know who was mistaken. Dolby, 
staring as if I had stabbed him in the stomach, rushed out of the 
hall to read the poster in the excess of his certainty that it was 
Pickwick , to find that Pickwick .was announced. Meanwhile, 
the breakfast at the Saracen’s Head had taken such a tight hold of 
the audience (who uttered Kentish fires of laughter at every third 
word) that to stop the reader and correct the mistake would havo 
been madness. Poor Dickens ended Nickleby triumphantly, and 
tripped down the stairs of the piatform, smiling to think that one 
more of the thirty was notched off. But the people would not go, 
demanded why they had not heard Pickwick, and Dickens had to* 
return and good-naturedly offer to read Pickwick then, if they desired 
it. Although the walls shook with applause, there were one or two- 
considerate No ! No’s ! However, Pickwick he read in addition ; and 
though awfully exhausted after his two hours and a half of reading, 
was quite merry over the mishap, and make jokes about it till bed- 
time. I am sorry to say he suffers now headache and brow neuralgia, 
suro signs of excess of nervous power wasted over-night. On 
such occasions he .is the most patient, plucky, make- the -best-of- 
bad-luck being I ever knew. — P 5. 

THE ENGLISH CLIMATE. 

The readings [January 1867] began with unabated enthusiasm ; 
but the reader, alas ! speedily discovered bis physical unfitness 
for this arduous and exacting undertaking. Almost at the begin- 
ning of the tour ho was so overcome by faintness after a reading 
that he had to be carried out and laid on a sofa for half an hour, 
and he attributed this indisposition to a “distressing inability to 
sleep at night, and to nothing worse.” The climatic conditions 
were very trying, indeed he thought it was the worst weather he 
over experienced ; at Chester he read “ in a snowstorm and a fall 
of ice ” — at Wolverhampton a thaw had set in and it rained furi- 
ously, and touring under such circumstances fairly exhausted him. 
—K 1 . 

IRISH ENTHUSIASM. 

(Fenian excitement in Ireland.) Notwithstanding the pre- 
occupation of the public mind at this juncture [March 1867] he 
was accorded a most hearty reception by the Irish people, who 
flocked to the readings in large numbers. “ You will be surprised 



90 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


to know that we have done wonders ! ” he wrote Forster. “ En- 
thusiastic crowds have tilled the halls to the roof each night, and 
hundreds have been turned away. At Belfast the night before 
last we had £24G, 5s. In Dublin to-night everything is sold out, 
and people are besieging Dolby to put chairs anywhere, in doorways, 
on iny platform, in any sort of hole or corner. In short, the readings 
are a perfect rage at a time when everything else is beaten down.” 
—K 1 . 

A FIRST NIGHT IN PHILADELPHIA. 

No literary man except Thackeray ever had such a welcome 
from Philadelphia as Charles Dickens received at tho Concert 
Hall. The selling of the tickets two weeks before almost amounted 
to a disturbance of the peace. Five hundred people in line, standing 
from midnight till noon, poorly represented the general desire to 
hear the great novelist on his first night. Everywhere that I 
looked in the crowded hall I saw someone not unknown to fame — 
someone representing either the intelligence or the beauty, the 
wealth or the fashion, of Philadelphia. It was an audience which, 
in the words of Serjeant Buzfuz, I might declare an enlightened, 
a high-minded, a right feeling, a dispassionate, a conscientious, 
a sympathising, a contemplative, and a poetical jury, to judge 
Charles Dickens without fear or favour. The novelist stepped 
upon the stage. His book in his hand, his bouquet in his coat — 
but I will not describe to readers the face and form many of them 
know so well. Mr. Dickens was received coldly. Here was an 
Englishman who had pulled us to pieces and tweaked the national 
nose by writing Martin Chazzlewit and American Notes. Phila- 
delphia held out as long as she could. The first smile came in 
when Bob Cratchit warmed himself with a candle, hut before Scrooge 
had got through the first ghost the laughter was universal and 
uproarious. The “ Christmas Dinner of the Crate hits ” was a 
tremendous success, as was “ Scrooge’s Niece by Marriage.” There 
was a young lady in white fur and blue ribbons, name unknown 
to the writer, upon whose sympathies Mr. Dickens played as if she 
had been a piano. A deaf man could have followed his story by 
looking at her face. The goose convulsed her. The pudding 
threw her into hysterics; and when the story came to the sad death 
of Tiny Tim, “ my little, little child,” tears were streaming down 
her cheeks. This young lady was as good as Mr. Dickens, and 
all the more attractive because she couldn’t help it. Then, as a 
joke began to be dimly foreseen, it was great to see the faint smile 
dawning on long lines of faces, growing brighter and brighter till 
it passed from sight to sound, and thundered to the roof in vast 
and inextinguishable laughter . — New York Tribune , January 14, 
1868. 

FAREWELL TO NEW YORK. 

The last reading in America was given at the Steinway Ha!!, 
New York, on 20th April, 1868, the audience numbering over two 




DK'KKNS A8 A ITHLIC UEAHER IN 18C1 
Engraved /rum the photograph by Era little J' 1 oung 



92 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


thousand persons. The t&sk finished, the reader was about to retire, 
when a tremendous volley of cheering stopped him, and he went 
forward to make a short speech, bidding his audience farewell, and 
concluding with the words, “ God bless you, and God bless the land 
in which I leave you.” This little impromptu oration, listened to 
with rapt attention, caused immense acclamation and waving of 
handkerchiefs, amid which Dickens retired from the platform, 
never to reappear in public in America . — K 1. 

FINANCIAL RETURNS IN AMERICA. 

Prior to our visit to Philadelphia, Mr. Osgood had prepared a 
statement of his accounts, up to and including the date of the last 
reading given in New York, which completed a little over a quarter 
of the number intended to be given in America. After paying all 
the preliminary expenses of every kind, on my return to New 
York on 15th January, 1868, I had been able to remit to Messrs. 
Coutts’ bank in London, to the credit of Mr. Dickens, £10,000, 
and had over £1000 in hand after doing this to go on with. — D . 

PLATFORM APPURTENANCES. 

As I believe it has not previously appeared in this country or 
in America, I will give a description of the appurtenances of the 
platform. At the back was a large screen consisting of a series 
of woodwork frames covered with canvas ; this again was covered 
with a maroon-coloured cloth, tightly stretched. In the centro of 
the stage or platform was the table, on which was a slightly raised 
reading-desk. On the left hand of the reader, on either side of the 
table, were small projecting ledges — the one on the right for the 
water-bottle and glass, the other for his pocket-handkerchief and 
gloves. Further forward, and on each side of the stage, rau two 
uprights, secured with copper wire “guys,” securing the batten 
and reflector, and communicating above and below with another 
range of lights with reflectors, so that the reader's face and figure 
were fully and equally distinct to the vision of the audience, and no 
effects were marred either by too much light overhead or by a 
super- effulgence from below. — D. 

VIVIDNESS OF HIS IMPERSONATIONS. 

In A Christmas Carol, when Dickens threw himself into Bob 
Cratchit, leaning over the elbow-rest upon the reading-table, with a 
meek, subdued voice and a mild, timid expression of countenance, 
he gave an instantaneous impression of the poor, feeble, struggling 
clerk. In The Chimes he personified the group consisting of Aider- 
man Cute, Filer, and the red-faced man, by rapid gradations of 
voice which were perfect. That voice had wonderful flexibility. 
Whether as a wheezy porter, or the vacant Toots, or the Boots at 
the inn (where it sounded as though he was chewing a straw), or the 
pompous Pecksniff, or the oily Mr. Mould, or the judge in the Pick- 



ON THE PLATFORM. 


93 


wick trial, or little Paul Dombey, the reader managed to convey 
the exact impression required, and with the utmost apparent ease. — 
R 2 . 

Charles Dickens was decidedly theatrical. I [Miss Henriette 
Corkran] heard my mother say that she had gone to hear Dickens 
read one of his works. At that particular time he happened to be 
in her black books, so she made up her mind not to betray any sort 
of emotion at his reading. When she returned home she confessed 
that Dickens's reading was so remarkably powerful and dramatic 
that she alternately laughed and cried, exactly as he wished her to 
do. “ He is a wonderful magician,” my mother remarked . — C 4. 

This recalls a passage in the memoirs of poor Mr. Goodall, who 
describes Dickens's tribute to Daniel Maclise, who had just died, 
at a Royal Academy banquet. When Dickens had ended, this is 
what happened : 

“ Death-like stillness came over the great room. I shall never 
forget it. Mine were not the only eyes filled with teal's. The 
speech had such an effect upon the whole company that by common 
consent immediately it was ended ill rose from their seats, and no 
other speech was heard that evening. I never witnessed such a 
scene before or since at the Royal Academy.”— T.P.' s Weekly , 
November 21, 1902. 

I [R. 0. Lehmann] cannot have been more than six or seven years 
old when my father and mother took me to one of his readings 
at, L think, St. James’s Hall. First he read the death of Paul 
Dombey, which left me in floods of tears, and next came the Trial 
scene from Pickwick. I shall never forget my amazement when he 
assumed the character of Mr. Justice Stareleigh. The face and 
figure that I knew, that 1 had seen on the stage a moment before, 
seemed to vanish as if by magic, and there appeared instead a fat, 
pompous, pursy little man, with a plump imbecile face, from which 
every vestige of good-temper and cheerfulness— everything, in fact, 
except an expression of self-sufficient stupidity —had been removed. 
The upper lip had become long, the corners of the mouth drooped, 
the nose was short and podgy, all the angles of the chin had gone, 
the chin itself had receded into the throat, and the eyes, lately so 
humorous and human, had become as malicious and obstinate as 
those of a pig. It was a marvellous effort in transformation . — L 2. 

A COMPANY IN HIMSELF. 

Of Dickens's readings no description can convey any adequate, 
impression. Ho was in himself a whole stock company. He seemed 
to be physically transformed as he passed from one character to 
another; he had as many distinct voices as his books had char- 
acters ; he held at command the fountains of laughter and tears. 
Dibkens’s voice in its every disguise was of such quality that it 
reached all of those thousands in St. James’s Hall, and he stood 
before us a magician. When he sat down it was not mere applause 
that followed, but a passionate outburst of love for the man . — C 3. 



94 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


LITTLE DOMBEY AND TOOTS. 

The “ Story of Little Dombey,” from Dombey and Son , was always 
a painful one to Mr. Dickens, and never read by him except by 
particular request and under the greatest of pressure. His in- 
tuitive identification of himself with his audience was the cause, in 
this particular instance, of the most acute suffering ; and it was with 
the greatest relief that he drew his hearers from the thraldom of 
melancholy, in which they were bound in the earlier part of the 
reading, by introducing Mr. Toots and his boyish absurdities. — D. 

FAREWELL ! 

The final reading took place on 15th March 1870. The readings 
selected were the Carol and the Trial from Pickwick . The reading 
over, Dickens said : “ Ladies and gentlemen, it would be worse than 
idle — for it would be hypocritical and unfeeling -if 1 were to dis- 
guise that I close this episode in my life with feelings of very con- 
siderable pain. For some fifteen years, in this hall, and in many 
kindred places, I have had the honour of presenting my own 
cherished ideas before you for your recognition, and, in closely 
observing your reception of them. ha\e enjoyed an amount of 
artistic delight and instruction which, perhaps, is given to few men 
to know . . . but from these garish lights, 1 vanish now for ever- 
more, with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate fare- 
well.” Amidst repeated acclamations on the part of the audience, 
and w'hile hats and handkerchiefs waved in every part of the hall, 
Charles Dickens left the platform with quite a mournful gait and 
tears rolling down his cheeks ; but he was impelled to return once 
again, to be stunned by a still more rapturous outburst of applause. 
The full number of readings at home and abroad, apart from charit- 
able ones, was four hundred and twenty- three, which yielded 
Dickens the sum of £45,000.— K 1. 

forster’s scruples overruled. 

From the reminiscences of Dickens by his son Charles in the 
North American Review of June 1805, we gather that w hen Dickens 
first thought of giving public readings from his own works Mr. 
Forster tried to dissuade him from the idea. Dickens himself 
feared that it would be infra dig., but he saw that 44 a great deal of 
money might be made by one’s having readings of one’s own books.” 
We are told that Forster’s opposition to the undertaking was due 
to an intense jealousy of anything that Dickens did outside his 
books. He argued that these readings wore 44 a substitution of 
lower for higher aims ; a change to commonplace from more elevated 
pursuits/’ and that they had so much of the character of a public 
exhibition for money as to raise, in the question of respect for 
Dickens’s calling as a writer, a question also of respect for him 
as a gentleman. But Dickens took a clearer and a wider view, and 
the result justified his confidence. Neither as a writer nor as a 
gentleman did his public readings hurt him in any degree, but they 



ON THE PLATFORM. 


95 


did break down His health. His second course of readings in 
America was gone through with great effort and much suffering. — 
Literarty Digest (New York, June 1895). 

HOW DICKENS “ KILLED HIMSELF.” 

“ There was something of almost wilful exaggeration, of a defiance 
of any possible over-fatigue, either of mind or body, in the feverish 
sort of energy with which these readings were entered upon and 
carried out.” He had plenty of symptoms of his approaching 
collapse : “ Among other serious symptoms he noticed that he could 
only read the halves of the letters over the shop doors on his right. 
The old elasticity was impaired, the old unflagging vigour often 
faltered. One night at the St. James’s Hall, I remember, he found 
it impossible to say Pickwick, and called him Piekswick, and Picnic, 
and Peckwieks, and all sorts of names except the right, with a 
comical glance of surprise at the occupants of the front scats, which 
were always reserved for his family and friends. Indeed, when my 
father described himself, in a letter written to Mr. Dolby on the very 
eve of the breakdown, as being 4 .. little out of sorts,’ he was, in 
fact, on the brink of an attack of paralysis of the left side, and 
probably of apoplexy.” What finished him was a farewell series of 
twelve readings at St. James’s Hall. The state in which he was can 
be imagined from the instructions given to young Dickens by his 
father’s medical attendant: 44 1 have had some steps put up against 
the side of the platform, Charley,” said Mr. Beard, who was con- 
stantly in attendance. 44 You must be there every night, and if 
you sec your father falter in the least, you must run up and catch 
him and bring him off with me, or, by Heaven, ho’ll die before them 
all.” — Quoted from Charles Dickens, the younger, in the North 
American Review , quoted in Review of Reviews, July 1895. 

AND WHY ? 

Dickens was struck down by apoplexy — a condition which Sir 
Thomas Watson, on examination fourteen months before, had fore- 
seen. 44 The state thus described,” says Sir Thomas Watson after the 
consultation in April ’09, 44 showed plainly that C. D. had been on 
the brink of an attack of paralysis of his left side, and possibly of 
apoplexy. It was, no doubt , the result of extreme hurry , overwork , 
and excitement , incidental to his readings .” It will be asked for what 
purpose, to what end, were these fatal labours undertaken, these 
desperate exertions made ? Not the acquisition of fame. For 
thirty years Charles Dickens had enjoyed the utmost renown that 
literary genius could possibly earn. Ilis books wero read, his name 
was loved and honoured, wherever the English language was spoken. 
His Sovereign had sent for him to visit her, and working-men, passing 
along the streets and recognising him by his photograph, w r ould 
pull off their hats and give him kindly greeting. The sentiments 
of the entire civilised world find expression in the lady who stopped 
him in the streets of York, and said, 44 Mr. Dickens, will you let mo 
touch the hand that has tilled my house with many friends ? ” 



96 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


It was a law of his existence that his foot should be always in the 
stirrup and his sword always unsheathed. He had, moreover, 
a chivalrous regard to the public. He was their devoted servant, 
and he was anxious to spend his life-blood in their cause. Conse- 
quently, even when he knew his power as a novelist was on the 
wane — according to Forster it had, indeed, been on the wane so far 
back as the days of Bleak House — he determined to seek a new 
sphere, and one which to his histrionic temperament was singularly 
congenial, in his readings. This I [Edmund Yates] believe to be the 
true account of the reasons which weighed with him in selecting 
that arduous ordeal which brought his life to its premature close. 
Other reasons of a more melodramatic and sensational character 
might be cited, but it is my conviction that they would be less to be 
trusted . — Y 



V 


DICKENS AND THE STAGE 

Of a long series of playbills of amateur performances, which are 
in my possession, and which, as it were, “dot” the whole course of 
“ Boz’s ” life, one is unique and of singular interest ; for it is, I 
believe, the only official record of a period of Dickens’s course which 
is comparatively blank — namely, about the time of the early 
thirties. This bill is significant of lna exuberant, buoyant nature, 
and of the enthusiasm which made him enlist his family and friends 
in the corps. Tho scene was at their own house, and the young 
fellow announces himself at the top of the bill as “ Stage Manager.” „ 
We lind him supporting the whole burden and taking tho leading 
parts. Tho cast included his father, his two sisters and two 
brothers, his cousin Barrow, members of tho Austin family — one 
of whom married his sister — and the young Kolle, a great friend and 
comrade of his . — F 2. 

THE CARPENTER’S LAMENT. 

If ever a man seemed to have been born for one particular pursuit 
it was my father in connection with the stage. He was, indeed, 
a bom actor, and no line of character that I ever saw him essay 
came amiss to him. From Captain Bobadil to Justice Shallow, 
from old-fashioned farce, such as Two o'clock in the Morning and 
Animal Magnetism , to the liveliest Charles Mathewsisms, and thence 
again to the intenscst Frederic Lemaitre melodrama, from the 
tremendous power of the Sikes and Nancy reading to the absurdities 
of Serjeant Buzfuz, from the pathos of Little Dombey to the broad 
humours of Mrs. Gamp, everything seemed to come natural to him. 
That ho brought to his acting the same earnestness and energy 
that ho gave to everything else is of course true, but no amount of 
work could have produced tho same result if tho power had not 
been there, strongly, unusually strongly, developed. There was a 
quaint professional touch, and yet one easy to understand, about 
tho remark which a stage carpenter once made to him during tho 
progress of some amateur performances at the Haymarket Theatre, 

‘ Ah, Mr. Dickens, it was a sad loss to the public when you took to 
writing,” — Charles Dickens, the younger, in North American Review , 
-May 1895. 

4 




CHARLES DICKENS AS CAl’TAlX BoBADIL IX “EVERY MAN IN HIS HUMOUR 
From the painting hy ('. R. Leslie , R.A. 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


99 


LOVE OF THE THEATRE. 

Dickens was an actor of no mean capacity. In his early days of 
reporting he made an attempt to escape from that ill -paid drudgery 
by way of the stage. When fame came to him as a writer his old 
predilection asserted itself, and he was never so happy as when 
playing in amateur theatricals. While writing The Cricket on the 
Hearth he arranged a performance of Jonson’s Every Man in His 
Humour , with himself in the part of Bobadil. The other players 
included Jerrold, Lemon, Leech, and Forster. The theatre engaged 
was Miss Kelly’s in Dean Street. The “ troupe ” afterwards took 
Not so Bad as We Seem on tour, and this adventure befell at Sunder- 
land : 

“ When we got here at noon, it appeared that the hall was a 
perfectly new one, and had only had the slates put upon the roof 
by torchlight overnight. Further, that the proprietors of some 
opposition rooms had declared the building to be unsafe, and that 
there was a panic in the town about it. . . . When the curtain went 
up and I saw the great sea of faces rolling up to the roof, I looked 
here and looked there, and thought, I saw the gallery out of the 
perpendicular and fancied the lights in the ceiling were not straight. 
Rounds of applause were perfect agony to me, I was so afraid of 
their effect upon the building. I had a palpitation of the heart if 
any of our people stumbled up or down a stair. The anxiety of my 
mind was so intense, that I am half-dead to-day.” — Da ily Mail, 
March 7, 1003. 

AT THE OLD ROYALTY. 

On the 20th September 1845, I was instructed to accompany Mr, 
Charles Dickens, Mr. Mark Lemon, and Mr. Douglas Jerrold to Miss 
Kelly’s theatre (known in these days as “ The Royalty ”) to attend 
to the final arrangements for the performance by the distinguished 
amateurs on the following night, which prepared the way for subse- 
quent representations, in town and country, in aid of the funds for 
the purchase of Shakespeare's House and later of the Guild of 
Literature and Art. On arriving at the theatre no time was lost 
in proceeding to business — the two first-named gentlemen divesting 
themselves of their coats, and commencing to put the dress circle 
and boxes in order, by numbering the seats. The pockets of th& 
puce-coloured waistcoat, of velvet texture — a favourite article of 
dress with the immortal “ Boz ” — served on the occasion as a 
receptacle for the bradawl and tin tacks, Mr. Dickens himself going 
about with hammer in hand. Mr. Jerrold' s work was confined to 
the stage — a colder berth, it would appear, as the popular writer 
of Mrs. Caudle s Curtain Lectures did not remove his outer garment. 
He saw to the scenery, and had to prepare a fire, in theatrical fashion, 
with slacked lime and red tinsel. Having completed the latter task, 
Mr. Jerrold rose from his stooping position, and called “ Lemon, how 
will that do ? ” to which the Editor of Punch replied, “ The smoke 
is all right, but a little more tinsel would improve the fire.” This 



100 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


was done, and the effect approved of. So far so good, and Mr. 
Jerrold soon vacated the “ boards ” and made his appearance in 
the “ front of the house ” — suggesting some refreshment to the 
toilers in the boxes, which was readily agreed to. — John Britton, in 
the Daily News , January 21, 1890. 

MRS COWDEN-CLARKE's RECOLLECTIONS. 

These private theatricals [that is, the private theatricals in which 
Mrs. Cowden-Clarke took part at the house of Mrs. Loudon, the 
authoress] led to one of the most peculiarly bright episodes of my 
life. At a party at Mrs. Tagart's house I was introduced by Leigh 
Hunt to Charles Dickens, with whom we had been for some time 
acquainted through his delightful books, and he had been always 
spoken of in our family circle as “dear Dickens” or “darling 
Dickens ; 55 therefore it may easily be conceived how pleased and 
proud I felt to be thus personally made known to him. He and l 
fell at once into liveliest conversation ; and just before he was 
taking leave, lie said, “ I hear you have been playing Mrs. Malaprop 
lately.” I answered, “ Yes : and 1 hear you are going to get up 
an amateur performance of The Merry IFum so 1 could bo your 
Dame Quickly.” I saw that he did not take this seriously ; accord- 
ingly, 1 wrote to him, a day or two after, telling him l w as in earnest 
when 1 had made the offer to act Dame Quickly, if he cared to let 
me do so. 

The note I received in reply began with a sentence that threw me 
into a rapture of excitement and delight. The sentence was as 
follows : 

“ Dear Mrs. Cowden-Clarke, — I did not understand, when 1 
had the pleasure of conversing with you the other evening, that 
you had really considered the subject and desired to play. But I 
am very glad to understand it now, and 1 am sure there will be a 
universal sense among us of the grace and appropriateness of such 
a proceeding. . . . Will you receive this as a solemn ‘call* to 
‘ rehearsal 7 of The Merry Wive.s at Miss Kelly’s theatre to-momnv, 
Saturday weeJc f at seven in the evening ? ” 

Although I am naturally shy, I have never felt shy when acting, 
but it must be confessed that “ rehearsal ” w as somewhat of a 
heart-beating affair to me, as I had to meet and speak bofore such a 
group of distinguished men as John Forster, editor of the Examine % ; 
Mark Lemon, editor of Punch ; John Leech, its inimitable illus- 
trator ; the admirable artists, Augustus Egg and Frank Stone, 
all of whom are fellow-actors in Charles Dickens’s Amateur Company. 
But he, as manager, presenting me to them with his usual grace and 
kindliness, together with my own firm resolve to speak out clearly, 
just as if I were at performance instead of rehearsal, helped me 
capitally through this first and most formidable evening. On the 
night wnen The Merry Wives was first performed at the Haymarket 
Theatre (15th May 1848), I felt not a shadow of that stage fright, 
although I had to make my entrance before a select London 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


101 


audience. . . . The performance of The Merry Wives at the Hay 
market Theatre was followed by that of Ben Jonson’s Every Man 
in His Humour , and Kenney’s farce of Love, Law , and Physic on the 
next evening but one (17th May 1848). In the former I played 
Tib, Cob’s wife ; and in the latter, Mrs. Hilary. . . . Charles 
Dickons, supreme as manager, super-excellent as actor, and ardently 
enthusiastic in his enjoyment of exercising his skill in both capaci- 
ties, organised a series of provincial engagements for the performance 
of his Amateur Company. At Glasgow, on the 20th July 1848, we 
gave Usui Up ; Love , Law and Physic , and Two o'clock in the Morning . 
It was our last performance together, and we not only felt regret at 
the time for this close of our happy comradeship, but dear Charles 
Dickens’s letters for a long time afterwards expressed his pain at its 
cessation. Genial, kind, most sympathetic and fascinating w r as his 
companionship, and very precious to me was his friendship . — C 2. 

ENERGY AT REHEARSAL. 

Unlike most professional rehearsals, where waiting about, dawd- 
ling, and losing time, seem to bo the order of the day, the rehearsals 
under Charles Dickens’s stage-managership were strictly devoted 
to work— serious earnest work; the consequence was that, when 
the evening of performance came, the pieces went olf with a smooth- 
ness and polish that belong only to finished stage-business and 
practised performers. He was always there among the first arrivals 
at rehearsals, and remained in a conspicuous position during their 
progress till the very last moment of conclusion. He had a small 
table placed rather to one side of the stage, at which he generally 
sat, as the scenes went on in which he himself took no part. On 
this table rested a moderate-sized box ; its intei ior divided into 
convenient compartments for holding papers, letters, etc., and this 
interior was always the very pink of neatness and orderly arrange- 
ment. He never seemed to overlook anything. With all this 
supervision, however, it was pleasant to remark the utter absence 
of dictatorialness or arrogation of superiority that distinguished 
his mode of ruling his troupe : he exerted his authority firmly and 
perpetually ; but in such a manner as to mako it universally felt 
to be for no purpose of self-assertion or self-importance ; on the 
contrary, to be for the sole purpose of ensuring general success to 
their united efforts . — C 1. 

AS JUSTICE SHALLOW. 

The date of our first night at the Hay market Theatre was the 15 th 
of May 1848, when the entertainment consisted of The Merry Wives 
of Windsor and Animal Magnetism . The “make up” of Charles 
Dickens as Justice Shallow w r as so complete that his own identity 
was almost unrecognisable, when he came on to the stage, as the 
curtain rose, in company with Sir Hugh and Master Slender ; but 
after a moment’s breathless pause, the whole house burst forth 
into a roar of applausive reception, which testified to the boundless 



102 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


delight of the assembled audience on beholding the literary idol of 
the day, actually before them. His impersonation was perfect: 
the old, stiff limbs, the senile stoop of the shoulders, the head bent 
with age, the feeble step, with a certain attempted smartness of 
carriage characteristic of the conceited Justice of the Peace, — were 
all assumed and maintained with wonderful accuracy ; while the 
articulation, — part lisp, part thickness of utterance, part a kind 
of impeded sibillation, like that of a voice that “ pipes and whistles 
in the sound ” through loss of teeth — gave consummate effect to 
his mode of speech . — C 1. 

THE DOCTOR AND LA FLEUR. 

In Mrs. Inchbald’s amusing farce of Animal Magnetism , the 
two characters of the Doctor and La Fleur, as played by Charles 
Dickens and Mark Lemon, formed the chief points of drollery : but 
in the course of the piece, ail exquisitely ludicrous bit of what is 
technically called “ gag ” w r as introduced into the scene w here 
George Lewes, as the Marquis, pretends to fall into a fit of rapturous 
delirium, exclaiming — 

“ What thrilling transport rushes to my heart ; Nature appeal’s 
to my ravished eyes more beautiful than poets ever formed ! 
Aurora dawns — the feathered songsters chant their most melodious 
strains — the gentle zephyrs breathe,” etc. 

At the words, “Aurora dawns,” Dickens interrupted with “ Who 
daw ns ? ” And being answ ered with “ Aurora,” exclaimed “ La ! ” 
in such a tone of absurd wonderment, as if he thought anybody 
rather than Aurora may been have expected to dawn. — C 1. 

CAPTAIN BOBADIL. 

The w r ay in which Charles Dickens impersonated that arch- 
braggart, Captain Bobadil, was a veritable piece of genius : from 
the moment when he is discovered lolling at full length on a bench 
in his lodging, calling for a “ cup o’ small beer ” to cool down the 
remnants of excitement from last night’s carouse with a set of 
roaring gallants, till his final boast of having “ not so much as once 
offered to resist ” the “ coarse fellow ” w ho set upon him in the open 
streets, he was capital. The mode in which he went to the back of 
the stage before he made his exit from the first scene of Act ii., 
uttering the last word of the taunt he flings at Downright with a 
bawl of stentorian loudness — “ Scavenger ! ” and then darted off 
the stage at full speed ; the insolent scorn of his exclamation, “ This 
a Toledo ? pish ! ” bending the sword into a curve as ho spoke ; the 
swaggering assumption of case with which ho leaned on the shoulder 
of his interlocutor, puffing aw r ay his tobacco smoke and puffing it 
off as “your right Trinidado ; ” the grand impudence of his lying 
when explaining how' he w'ould dispatch scores of the enemy,— 
“ challenge twenty more, kill them ; twenty more, kill them ; 
twenty more, kill them too ; ” ending by “ twenty score, that’s 
two hundred ; two hundred a day, five days a thousand ; forty 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


103 


thousand ; forty times five, five times forty, two hundred days kills 
them all up by computation,” rattling the words off while making 
an invisible sum of addition in the air, and scoring it conclusively 
with an invisible line underneath, — were all the very height of fun. 

It was noteworthy, as an instance of the forethought as to effect 
given to even the slightest points, that he and Leech (who played 
Master Mathew) had their stage-wigs made, for the parts they 
played in Ben Jonson’s comedy, of precisely opposite cut : Bobadil’s 
being fuzzed out at the sides and extremely bushy, while Master 
Mathew’s was fiat at the ears and very highly peaked above his 
forehead. In the green-room, between the acts, after Bobadil 
had received his drubbing and been well cudgelled in the fourth 
act, and has to reappear in the first scene of the fifth act, I saw 
Charles Dickens wetting the plume of vari-coloured feathers in his 
hat, and taking some of them out, so as to give an utterly crest- 
fallen look to his general air and figure. “ Don’t take out the white 
feather ! ” I said ; it was pleasant to see the quick glance up with 
which he recognised the point of my meaning. He had this de- 
lightful, bright, rapid glance of intelligence in his eye whenever 
anything was said to please him ; and it was my good hap many 
times to see this sudden light flash forth . — C 1. 

FLEXIBLE. 

In token of Charles Dickens’s appropriateness of gesture and 
dramatic discrimination, I may instance his deft mode of entree on 
the stage with me as Dame Quickly and as Mi's. Hilary. Where 
Justice Shallow comes hurriedly in with the former, Act in. Scene 
4, saying to her, “ Break their talk, Mistress Quickly; ” he used to 
have hold of my arm, partly leaning on it, partly leading me on by 
it, — just like an old man with an inferior : but — as the curtain rose 
to the ringing of bells, the clattering of horses, the blowing of mail- 
coach horn, the voices of passengers calling to waiter and chamber- 
maid, etc., at the opening of Love, Law , and Physic — Charles Dickens 
used to tuck me under his arm with the free-and-easy familiarity 
of a lawyer patronising an actress whom he chances to find his 
fellow-traveller in a stage-coach, and step smartly on the stage, 
with — “Come, bustle, bustle; tea and coffee for "the ladies. 1 * It 
is something to remember, having been tucked under the arm by 
Charles Dickens, and had one’s hand hugged against his side ! One 
thinks better of one’s hand ever after. Ho used to be in such a 
state of high spirits when he played Flexible, and so worked himself 
into hilarity and glee for the part, that he more than once said in 
those days, “Somehow, 1 never see Mi's. Cowden-Clarke, but I feel 
impelled to address her with ‘ Exactly ; and thus have I learned 
from his own obliging communication, that he is the rival of my 
friend. Captain Danvers ; who, fortunately for the safety of Mr; 
Log’s nose, happened to be taking the air on the box.’ ” And he 
actually did, more than once, utter these words (one of Flexible’s 
first speeches to Mrs. Hilary) when we met. He was very fond of 
this kind of reiterated joke.— C I. 



104 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE, 


MR. SNOBBINGTON. 

On our journey down to Birmingham I enjoyed a very special 
treat. Charles Dickens — in his usual way of sparing no pains that 
could ensure success — asked mo to hear him repeat his part in Two 
o'clock in the Morning , which, he and Mark Lemon being the only 
two persons acting therein, was a long one. He repeated throughout 
with such wonderful verbal accuracy that I could scarcely believe 
what I saw and heard as I listened to him, and kept my eyes fixed 
upon the page. Not only every word of the incessant speaking 
part, but the stage directions — which in that piece are very numerous 
and elaborate — he repeated verbatim. He evidently committed to 
memory all he had to do as w ell as all he had to say in this extremely 
comic trifle of one act and one scene. Who that beheld the con- 
vulsive w rithes and spasmodic draw-up of his feet on the rung of the 
chair, and the tightly-held coverlet round his shivering body just 
out of bed, as he watched in ecstasy of impatience the invasion of 
his peaceful chamber by that horribly intrusive Stranger, can ever 
forget Charles Dickens playing Mr. Snobbington ? — C 1. 

A “ GAMP ’’-LIKE CHARACTER. 

Speaking of Dickens’s acting in Not so Bad as we Seem (the 
comedy written by Bulwer Lytton in aid of the Guild of Literature 
and Art), Mr. R. H. Horne (in his Recollections of Contemporaries) 
says : 

“ The character and costume of 4 Lord Wilmot, a young man 
at the head of the Mode , more than a century ago,’ did not suit him. 
His bearing on the stage, and the tone of his voice, were too rigid, 
hard, and quarterdeck-like, for such ‘ rank and fashion.’ and his 
make-up, w r ith the three-cornered, gold-laced, cocked hat, black 
curled wig, huge sleeve cuffs, long flapped waistcoat, knee-breeches 
and shoe-buckles, were not carried off with the proper air ; so that 
he would have made a good portrait of a captain of a Dutch priva- 
teer, after having taken a capital prize. When he shouted in praise of 
the wine of Burgundy it far rather suggested fine kegs of Schiedam.” 

In Mr. Nightingale's Diary , however, a great success was obtained. 
This little piece had hardly any plot, and appears to have been 
somewhat of the nature of what is, now-a-days, known as a “ variety 
entertainment.” In it Dickens appeared in five different characters, 
namely, Sam Weller ; Mr. Gabblewig, an over-voluble barrister; 
a hypochondriac ; Mrs. Gamp (“ not the real Mrs. Gamp, but only a 
near relation ”) ; and an old sexton, ninety years of age. He also 
took part in a broadsword combat, fought a la GYuminlos. 

In a critical account of these performances which appeared in 
Bentley's Miscellany , for June 1851, great praise is bestowed upon 
Dickens’s impersonation of this Mrs. Gamp-like character . — P 2. 

Mark Lemon, Dickens, and Douglas Jerrold, I [Sir Joseph Crowe] 
had the pleasure of seeing more than once, acting in company with 
John Forster in Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour. Each 
one of the performers was perfect. — C 6. 




106 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


THE OLD LIGHTHOUSE-MAN. 

In his Journal of a London Playgoer , Mr. Henry Morley thus 
speaks of one of the private performances of Wilkie Collins’s drama, 
The Lighthouse : 

“ July 14, 1855. — On Tuesday evening, at Campden House, 
Kensington, the residence of Colonel Waugh, semi-private theatricals 
were given, with a charitable purpose, and with striking success, 
under the management of Mr. Charles Dickens. At Campden 
House there is a miniature theatre, complete with pit and boxes, 
stage and footlights. For the benefit of the funds of the Bourne- 
mouth Sanatorium for Consumptive Patients, the amateurs per- 
formed in this little theatre before a crowded audience, composed 
principally of ladies, a new two-act play by Mr. Wilkie Collins, and 
a two-act farce. The play was called The Lighthouse , and told a 
tale of Eddystono in the old times. It was, in its principal 
parts, acted by distinguished writers, with whose artistic skill 
upon the stage the public has been for some time familiar. 
The three lighthouse-men are at first shown cut off by a 
month’s storm from the mainland. They are an old man and 
his son, together with the father of the young man’s sweetheart. 
The old man’s memory is haunted by what he believes to have been 
his passive consent to a most foul murder. Weakened by starva- 
tion, his brain becomes wholly possessed by dread of this crime. 
The spectre of the supposed murdered lady seems to stand at his 
bedside and bid him speak. He does speak, and, possessed with a 
wild horror at all he recollects, reveals to his son his shame. Upon 
the acting of this character depends the whole force of the story, 
as presented to the audience, and it is in the hands of a master. 
He is a rough man, whose face has been familiar for years with wind 
and spray, haggard and wild just now, and something light-headed, 
oppressed not more by conscience than by hunger. He tells bis 
tale and his son turns from him, shrinks from Ids touch, struck down 
by horror of the crime, and the humiliation to himself involved in it. 
Relief comes to the party soon after this ; they arc fed, and the 
physical depression is removed. Eager then to regain his son’s 
esteem, and cancel the disclosure of his secret, the old lighthouse- 
man changes in manner. By innumerable master-touches on the 
part of the actor, we are shown what his rugged ways have been of 
hiding up the knowledge that stirs actively within his conscience ; 
but his effort to be bold produces only nervous bluster, and his 
frantic desire to recover his son’s respect, though ho may take him 
by the throat to extort it from him, is still mixed up w ith a horrible 
sense of blood-guiltiness, wonderfully expressed by little instinctive 
actions. I w ill not follow the story to its last impressive moment of 
rough, nervous, seaman’s prayers, in which the old man stands 
erect, with his hands joined over his head, overpowered bv the 
sudden removal of the load that has so long weighed upon his heart. 
But to the last that piece of the truest acting was watched with 
minute attention by the company assembled ; and rarely has acting 
on a public stage better rewarded scrutiny.” 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


107 


The actor, of course, was Dickens, and it is worth noting that 
Carlyle compared his wild picturesqueness in this exacting part to 
the famous figure in Nicholas Poussin’s bacchanalian dance in the 
National Gallery.— P 2. 

AS STAGE MANAGER. 

It was, however, not merely as an actor that the novelist justified 
the Haymarket stage-carpenter’s enthusiasm, as will be seen in 
his son’s account of the production of Wilkie Collins’s exciting 
and ingenious drama, The Lighthouse , for which Dickens wrote 
a prologue, which he delivered himself in the tiny theatre fitted up 
in the schoolroom at Tavistock House • 

tc At the cue ‘ Eddystono Lighthouse 5 the green curtain was 
raised and displayed, to the unbounded astonishment of the audience, 
Stanfield’s picture ; and the words 1 billows rise ’ were my signal — 
I was in charge of the storm — to let loose the elements. We had 
all the correct theatrical weather out in the hall ; the sort of silk 
grindstone for the wind, — 'Marcus Stone, now R.A., turned the 
wind, if I remember rightly, — the long box of rain, the flash for the 
lightning, the sheet of iron for the rattle of the thunder, besides 
half a dozen cannon-balls to roll about on the floor to simulate the 
shaking of the lighthouse as it was struck by the waves. It was 
nervous work, this riding on the whirlwind and directing the storm. 
It had to be done all through the first act exactly at the word, 
of course, and only for a rigidly defined time, and I could always 
tell by the very look of my father’s shoulders at rehearsal, as he 
sat on the stage with his back to me, that he w r as ready for the 
smallest mistake, and that if I didn't wave that- flag at exactly 
the right moment, or if the component parts of my storm were at 
all backward in attending to their business, there would promptly 
come that fatal cry of ‘ Stop ! ’ which pulled everything up short 
and heralded a wigging for somebody. The window of the light- 
house room had to be opened, with great difficulty in the teeth of 
the gale, two or three times in the course of the act, and then my 
storm and I all went raving mad together, while Stanfield — I can 
see now his jolly red sailor face beaming with excitement and 
delight — crouching against the scene near the aperture, threw salt 
on the stage to represent (I am afraid rather indifferently, though 
he thought it all right) the flying spray. Three times we played 
The Lighthouse , and each time with quite astounding success.” — 
Charles Dickens, the younger, in North American Review, May 1895. 

THE QUEEN AND CHARLES DICKENS. 

Two or three times more Frozen Deep w r as given in the Liliputian 
playhouse to crowxled audiences of ninety. It was repeated for 
the benefit of the Jerrold Fund at the Free Trade Hall in Man- 
chester, and also in I^ondon, on a memorable occasion described 
below : 

“ Also we had the honour of giving a private performance at the 



108 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Gallery of Illustration before Her Ma jesty the Queen and the Prince 
Consort, and I can well recall the excitement which was caused 
among the younger members of the company by the presence of 
the Princess Royal and the Crown Prince of Prussia, then just 
engaged to be married. Of the difficulty that stood in the way 
of my father’s paying his respects to Her Majesty that night in 
response to her expressed desire, he wrote : 

“ 4 My gracious Sovereign was so pleased that she sent round 
begging me to go and sec her, and accept her thanks. I replied that 
1 was in my farce dress, and must beg to be excused. Whereupon 
she sent again, saying that the dress 4 4 could not be so ridiculous 
as that,” and repeating the request. I sent my duty in reply, 
but again hoped Her Majesty would have the kindness to excuse 
my presenting myself in a costume and appearance that were not 
my own.’ 

44 This excuse commended itself to Her Majesty’s invariable tact 
and consideration, and my father carried his point, and it was 
thirteen years before the Queen had an opportunity of thanking 
him personally for the evening's entertainment.” — Ibid. 

[The performance honoured by Queen Victoria took place in 
1857. Dr. Sidney Lee tells us, by the way, that proposals, which 
came to nothing, were made to the novelist to read the Christmas 
Carol at Court in 1858, and that later Her Majesty purchased the 
copy of this work which the author had presented to Thackeray. 
Dickens visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace in March 1870, 
when she handed him a copy of her Leaves , with the autograph 
inscription, 44 From the humblest of writers to one of the greatest.” 
See Queen Victoria's Biography, pp. 403-4.] 

4< A BUDDING CONGREVE.” 

Mr. Blanchard Jerrold, in his Day with Charles Dickens , gives a 
letter addressed to Mr. Douglas Jerrold, in which Dickens, writing 
in June 1843, says : 

44 1 walk up and down the street at the back of the theatre every 
night, and peep in at the green-room window, thinking of the 
time when 4 Dick-ens ’ will be called for by excited hundreds, and 
won’t come — till Mr. Webster should enter from his dressing- 
room, and quelling the tempest with a smile, beseech that wizard, 
if he be in the house (here he looks up at my box), to accept the 
congratulations of the audience, and indulge them with the sight 
of the man who had got five hundred pounds in money, and it’s 
impossible to say how much in laurels. Then I should come for- 
ward and bow, once, twice, thrice — roars of approbation. Brayvo ! 
brarvo ! Hooray l hoorar ! hooroar ! — one cheer more — and 
asking Webster home to supper, should declare eternal friendship 
for that public-spirited individual, which Talfourd (the vice) will 
echo with all his heart and soul, and with tears in his eyes, adding 
in a perfectly audible voice, and in the same breath, that 4 he’s a 
very wretched eweature, but better than Macweady any way, for ho 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


109 


wouldn't play Ion when it was given to him.’ After which he 
will propose said Macready’s health in terms of red-hot eloquency. 
—I am always, my dear Jerrold, faithfully your friend, 

“The Congreve of the Nineteenth Century. 
“(Which I mean to be called in the Sunday papers.) 

“ P.S. — I should dedicate it to Webster, beginning : 

“ ‘ My dear Sir, — W hen yOu first proposed to stimulate the 
slumbering dramatic talent of England, I assure you I had not the 
least idea, etc. etc. etc.’ ” — P 2. 

his “ day dream.” 

That the details of theatrical management had a peculiar fascina- 
tion for him is instanced in the following anecdote, told by Mr. 
Charles Kent in his Charles Dickens as a Reader (K 6) : 

“ Going round by way of Lambeth one afternoon,’ says Mr. 
Kent, “ in the early summer of 1870, we had skirted the Thames 
along the Surrey bank, had crossed the river higher up, and, on our 
way back, were returning at our leisure through Westminster, 
when, just as we were approaching the shadow of the Old Abbey 
at Poet’s Corner, under the roof- beams of which he was so soon to 
be laid in his grave, with a rain of tears and flowers, he abruptly 
asked, ‘ What do you think would be the realisation of one of my 
most cherished day-dreams ? ’ adding instantly, without waiting 
for my answer, ‘ To settle dow n for the remainder of my life within 
easy distance of a great theatre, in the direction of which I should 
hold supreme authority. It should be a house, of course, having 
a skilled and noble company, and one in every way magnificently 
appointed. The pieces acted should be dealt with according to 
my pleasure, and touched up here and there in obedience to my 
own judgment ; the players as well as the plays being absolutely 
under my command. There,’ said he laughingly, and in a glow T at 
the mere fancy, ‘ that's my day-dream ! ’ ” — P 2. 

THE STAGE IN THE NOVELS. 

While Dickens saw ail that was most amusing, grotesque, tawdry, 
and even humiliating, in some phases of theatrical life, he touched 
the subject with so delicate and humorous a hand, that not even 
tho most ardent stickler for the honour of the actor and the position 
of his art can take exception to it. In the Pickwick Papers the drama 
is chiefly represented by that amusing vagabond, Mr. Alfred Jingle, 
who, albeit not an ornament to his profession, was, no doubt, in 
his own lino of business, a very excellent actor. It was to Mac- 
ready “ as a slight token of admiration and regard,” that Dickens 
inscribed the pages of Nicholas Nicklcbi/ , wherein that famous group 
of theatrical characters who gathered around tho standard of Mr. 
Vincent Crummies were introduced to tho world. In LMe Dorrit 
there is a very touching description of poor old Frederick Dorrit 
in the days when ho played tho clarionet in a small London theatre, 
and a very graphic description of a ballet rehearsal, which took 



110 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


place on the day when Little Dorrit herself, in her anxiety con- 
cerning her flighty sister Fanny, found her way into the mysterious 
world “ behind the scenes.” In Great Expectations , Dickens re- 
turned to his earlier and humorous view of theatrical life. From 
the moment when the appreciative reader is introduced to the 
pompous, Roman-nosed, parish clerk. Mr. Wopsle, he finds himself 
in the best of good company, and when Mr. Wopsle changes his 
name to Waidengarver, and tries his fortune on the stage, he is 
seen at his greatest ; albeit Joe Gargery expressed it as his opinion 
that in his change of life he had “ had a drop.” Very incomplete 
would be this portion of the writer’s task without due mention being 
made of the P. Salcy Family, whose names figure in that chapter 
of The U ncommercial Traveller , entitled 44 In tho French Country.” 
— P 2 . 

THE NOVELS ON TITE STAGE. 

In the heyday of his fame Dickens's works were constantly being 
dramatised, often against the novelist's will. For years, in fact, 
the “ adapter ” was his b te voire. One, Mr. Stirling, in particular 
aroused his wrath. While Nicholas Nickleby was still appearing 
in serial form, the enterprising dramatist 44 seized upon it without 
leave” (the words are Forster's;, “hacked, cut, and garbled its 
dialogue to the shape of one or two favourite actors ; invented for 
it a plot and an ending of his own, and produced it at the Adelphi.” 
There 44 the outraged author ” saw the play. 

Dickens found words of praise for the manner in which the piece 
was presented ; but he punished the audacious Mr. Stirling by 
introducing and denouncing him at Mr Crummies' s farewell supper. 
Another of the swarm of 44 adapters ” was one MoncriefI, who 
dramatised the same novel. By this time the novelist was so 
indignant, so despairing of any remedy, that he embarked upon a 
sort of 44 wordy warfare” with Mr. MoncriefI, who retaliated by 
publishing a long and vigorously indited advertisement. 

In later years the novelist was more fortunate in the adaptations 
made of his novels and in the actors who impersonated his immortal 
characters. Sir Henry Irving played Jingle, Mr. Toole appeared 
as Serjeant Buzfuz and the Artful Dodger, while Mr. Lionel Brough 
achieved some success in the part of Tilly vS lowboy. — Daily Mail , 
March 7, 1903. 

NICKLEBY AND OLIVER TWIST. 

A performance of Mr. Edward Stirling's version [of Nicholas 
Nickleby] at Worthing was not given under the advantages of the 
one that won some praise from Dickens at the Adelphi. 

44 For my benefit,” says Mr. Stirling, “ Nicholas Nickleby was an- 
nounced. Without tho Dotheboys Hall scholars this performance 
could not, however, take place. And here was the awkward dilemma. 
Worthing mothers of the poorer classes did not countenance play- 
acting, believing Old Nick to be in some way connected with it. 




JOSEPH JEFFERSON AS CALEB PLUMMER IN ‘'THU 
CRICKET ON THE HEARTH " 

As performed on the American stage 


11! 



112 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


A local Figaro helped me out of my difficulty. The professor of 
the razor did a bit of most things at his odd and leisure moments. 
He was a performer on the French horn, a bird-fancier, newsvendor, 
corn-cutter — Heaven knows what besides — a regular Caleb Quotem, 
in short. ‘ I’ll get you fifty, sir. never fear.’ And he was as good 
as his word. Lured from the by-streets and alleys by his horn, 
like the children in tho 4 Pied Piper of Hamelin,’ the small fry fol- 
lowed him to the theatre yard ; once there, Figaro closed the gates 
upon Mr. Squeers’s children. Amidst crying and moaning they 
were placed on the stage, sitting on benches, and kept in order 
by Figaro’s cane — poor children, completely bewildered. When 
the treacle was administered, most of them cried. This delighted 
the audience, thinking it so natural (so it was). At nine o’clock, 
the act over, our cruel barber threw' open the gates, driving his 
flock out, with a pleasant intimation of what they would catch 
when they arrived home. Mothers, fathers, sisters, in wild dis- 
order, had been scouring the town for their runaways, and the 
police were completely puzzled and at their wits’ ends at such a 
wholesale kidnapping. Figaro was nearly torn to pieces when the 
truth w r as discovered .” — P 2. 

Nicldeby and Oliver Twist were, at the Adelphi, exceptional 
successes. — Y . 

THE CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

When the Christmas Carol was played at the Adelphi, w r ith Toole 
as Bob Cratchit, much realism was got out of the Cratchit Christmas 
dinner scene, a real roast goose and a real plum-pudding being 
served up hot every night. Tiny Tim was played by a somewhat 
emaciated Little girl, who sat by the fireside and was fed with dainty 
morsels by the other little Cratchits, w ho clustered about the dinner- 
table, and who, needless to say, were as willing to play as good a 
knife and fork on the stage as they were supposed to do in the book. 

Of all the little Cratchits, however, this Tiny Tim proved the 
most voracious. Like his famous young relative, Oliver Twist, 
he always wanted “ more,” and night after night such large portions 
of goose and plum-pudding w r ere handed to this exacting and hungry 
little invalid, that even the good-natured Toole grew annoyed, 
feeling that the poetry of the scene was being missed, and at last 
became absolutely angry with the child for its supposed gluttony. 
Being at length taken to task on the subject, poor Tim made a 
confession. The child had a sister (a not too well-fed sister) em- 
ployed in the theatre. The fire by which it sat was a 44 stage fire,” 
through which anything could easily be conveyed to one waiting 
on the other side, and poor little Tim’s goose and pudding wen? 
more than shared each night. When Toole told this story to 
Dickens he was greatly touched, and said, “ I hope you gave the 
child the whole goose.” — P 2. 

The pleasantest thing which Mr. Stirling has to tell with regard 
to his connection with Dickens is concerning his dramatisation of 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


113 


the Christmas Carol , which was done by the express sanction of the 
author. The story is in itself so charming, and is so daintily told, 
that Mr. Stirling’s own words must be used : 

“ Dickens attended several rehearsals, furnishing valuable 
suggestions. Thinking to make Tiny Tim (a pretty child) fcnore 
effective, I ordered a set of irons and bandages for his supposed 
weak leg. When Dickens siw this tried on the child, he took me 
aside : 

“‘No, Stirling, no; this won’t do! remember how painful it 
would be to many of the aud'cnce having crippled children.’ ” — P 2. 

THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

In January 1840, in The Almanack of the Month , “ W. H. W.” t hus 
speaks of the first performance of a stage version of The Cricket on the 
Hearth , at the -Lyceum : 

44 That the Cricket might be served up quite warm to the play- 
going public, on the foyer of the Lyceum Theatre, its author — Mr. 
Charles Dickens — supplied the dramatist, Mr. Albert Smith, with 
proof-sheets hot from the press. On the evening of the morning, 
therefore, on which the book was published, its dramatic version 
was produced ; and, as the adapter stuck very closely indeed to 
the t 'xt of the original, of course it succeeded. Why, we are going 
to explain. 

“ Although Mr. Dickens does not profess dramatic authorship, 
yet his writings have had a considerable influence on the stage. The 
characters in his novels are — despite the exaggeration with which 
a few of the critical fraternity charge him — completely natural ; 
so essentially natural, indeed, that even after some of the stage 
adapters and actors have done their worst upon *hem, they come 
upon the stage very like transcripts from real life. As plays they 
are altogether different from their predecessors. The dramatis 
personae cannot, as that of the sentimental comedy and heavy 
melodrama, be summarily and arbitrarily put into the various 
conventional classes amongst which stage managers distribute the 
4 parts.’ One cannot safely be given out at once to the 4 heavy 
father ’ of the company ; another to the 4 smart servant ’ ; a third 
to the 4 low’ comedian ’ ; a fourth to the 4 juvenile tragedian * ; a 
fifth to the ‘chambermaid’; or a sixth to the 4 sentimental young 
lady.’ Dickens’s characters arc too like nature for that. No 
individual is, in real life, always being funny, or behaving wickedly, 
or eternally breathing forth sentimentality. The same persons 
have their times for being gay, and for being sad ; they have their 
times for being brilliant, and their dull moments ; and so have the 
life portraits which Dickens draw s. Some dramatists have attempted" 
to set 4 Boa’s ’ compositions 4 to rights ’ for the stage, and to make 
his characters stagily 4 effective ’ after their own tastes, and the 
consequence has been that the plays done on that principle have been 
os unnatural as a pantomime. In the present instance, the dramatist 
has stuck to his text.” Mr. Keeley played Caleb Plummer. The 
critic closes his remarks with expressions of unstinted admiration 



114 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


for the Dot of Mrs. Keeley. Mr. and Mrs. Keeley, indeed, were 
amongst the first, the greatest, and the best of the impersonators 
of Dickens’s characters. — P 2. 

My earliest recollection of tko Lyceum is under the management 
of the Keeleys, when with their daughter, Miss Mary Keeley, Miss 
Louisa Fair brother (Mrs. Fitzgeorge), Miss Wool gar, Messrs. Emery, 
Wigan, Frank Matthews, Leigh Murray, Oxberry, and Collier. 
Those were the days of the dramatisation of Dickens’s books : 
Martin Chuzzlewit , with Keeley as Mrs. Gamp and his wife as Bailey, 
F. Matthews a wonderful Pecksniff, Emery an excellent Jonas ; 
The Cricket on the Hearth, with Mrs. Keeley as Dot, Keeley as Caleb 
Plummer, Emery as Peerybingle, and Mary Keeley ’s debut as Bertha ; 
of the sparkling burlesques concocted by Albert Smith and Tom 
Taylor, while Charles Kenney would sit by and occasionally throw 
in a joke or a suggestion. — Y. 

RECOLLECTIONS OF “ O. A. S. 5 ' 

Of the pieces performed during 1830 and 1837 I especially re- 
member the farce of The Strange Gentleman , an adaptation of one 
of the Sketches by Boz , made by t lie writer of the Sketches himself. 
The author of Pickwick also wrote the libretto for an oj>era called 
The Village Coquettes , the composer of the music of which was Mr. 
John Hullah. 

I also remember another farcical burletta, entitled The Tradesmen's 
Ball, and a remarkably lugubrious burlesque extravaganza, The 
Revolt of the Workhouse . The New Poor Law was then in t hi' dawn 
of its unpopularity ; and public attention was being drawn with 
terrible force to the new Union Workhouse system in young Mr. 
Charles Dickens’s novel of Oliver Twist , which was then appearing 
in the pages of Bentley's Miscellany. Unless I gravely err, Oliver 
was dramatised at the St. James's (of course, with the author’s 
consent) almost as soon as it was concluded in Bentley ; and 1 have 
a dim remembrance of reading in some comic periodical of the time 
that so horrified was Dickens, who was present in a private box, 
at the wretched hash made of his powerful fiction, that at the con- 
clusion of the second act “ nothing but the soles of the boots of 
4 Boz ’ were visible on the ledge of his box.” 

Not without some fear and trembling do I tell this story ; since I 
find in Forster’s Life of Dickens an explicit statement on the part of 
the biographer that lie accompanied Dickens to a representation 
of Oliver Twist at the Surrey Theatre, and that in the middle of the 
first scene the author laid himself down upon the floor in a corner of 
the box, and never rose from it till the curtain fell. It is just 
possible that the outburst of feeling at the Surrey may have been a 
replica of that at the St. James’s. But to return to The Remit of the 
Workhouse. What the extravaganza was about I have not at 
present any definite remembrance ; but I recollect that on the first 
night there was represented a kind of trick or transformation scene, 
simulating a field of turnips which were changed into the heads of 




wju.iam k. ntniTox as cadtajn cuttle in 

“ DOMBEY AND SON " 

As performed. on the American stage 


Ilf) 



116 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


“ supers ” supposed to be paupers. These animated turnips rose 
through a trap-door to the stage, and then advanced in a cadaverous 
cohort to the footlights, crooning some doleful chant about the 
scantiness of their rations. I have always firmly believed that this 
transformation scene of the animated turnips gave Dickens, who was 
constantly behind the scenes at tho St. James’s at the time, the idea 
of Mr. Crummies’s celebrated “ set ” of the “ pump and tubs .” — S 2. 

EDWIN DROOD. 

I can quite understand Dickens’s objection to the pirate dramatist. 
The Mystery of Edwin Drood was left a fragment, but I saw at the 
Surrey Theatre a piece (in which I think Mr. Henry Neville played 
the principal character) which finished the work for the author. 
The secret of the death of the hero was the mystery left unsolved. 
The dramatist of the version to which I refer laid his last act in the 
crypt of Rochester Cathedral. He sent tho comic man into a lower 
vault, and then brought Rosa Bud (the heroine) and Jasper (the 
villain) together. The villain put his knife to Rosa’s throat. Then 
emerg(xi the comic man from the vault below. ” Why ? ” asked 
the viltain, annoyed at being interrupted in his murder of the 
heroine, “ Why this intrusion ? ” — A. 

Mr. Comyns Carr unfolded his idea of The Mystery of Edwin 
Drood to a Cardiff audience on Thursday evening. The New Theatre 
was highly honoured by becoming the scene of such a production. 
Cardiff filled the theatre, and it was rewarded. In this drama, 
which Mr. Tree presented so powerfully, the ideas of Dickens and the 
ideas of his posthumous collaborator were subtly blended. The 
play opened in the East End opium den, but not with the opening 
scene of the book ; it was rather the sbene which Dickens placed 
towards the close of his unfinished work. John Jasper entered, a 
distinguished and incongruous figure amongst such vicious and 
degraded surroundings. But with a familiarity to his environment 
that startled one almost to nausea, he easily takes up the place which 
an opium-sodden, evil-looking lascar has but just vacated. Ho 
takes the pipe, and dreams — his dreams tell secrets: he talks of 
Ned and Cloisterhain, and sends the old opium-selling hag to 
Cloisterham to worm out more of them. The second scene shows 
Jasper beset in mind by the intention of Drood's murder, learning 
from Durdles’s garrulous chatter the means by which he shall do 
his work and hide it. One also sees Rosa and Drood foreshadowing 
together their coming separation, and Rosa’s shuddering disgust at 
the thought and presence of Jasper. 

The intense interest in the drama begins in the second act. 
Jasper, Drood, and Neville Landless sup together on that wild 
eventful Christmas Eve. All seems goodwill and good-fellowship 
between them. Then Jasper, slipping aside, pours some powerful 
powdered drug into his brew of mulled port, and ladles it out with 
eager, nervous haste into the others’ glasses. A quarrel follows 
between Drood and Landless — the quarrel oypr Rosa’s picture — and 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


117 


presently the two, reconciled in their half-drugged state, go out to 
watch the storm upon the river. Landless is seen no more that 
night, but Jasper, brooding over the foul deed he means to do, is 
startled by Drood’s return alone. While the lad sits in a drowsy 
sleep he steels his nerves to strangle him. He loops his woollen 
scarf all ready, but resolution fails him. Drood awakes and goes 
to his bed. Jasper returns to the fire to brood again on his in- 
tended crime. The opium-seller steals in, Jasper takes again the 
drug, and in a delirious dream enacts by himself an imagined murder 
of Drood. His cries awake the sleeping lad, and stealing down he 
sees and hears enough. He stealthily goes out. Jasper awakes at 
dawn with all the horror of his dream upon him, ho finds the watch 
and chain — the metal that lime could not destroy — in the place 
whore, Jiaving stolen them from Drood's sleeping body, he has put 
them till the morning. Uncertain yet whether he dreams or no, he 
hastens to the bedroom, finds that brood has not disturbed his bed, 
and then, convinced of his crime, rushes down, pale and nerve- 
shattered, to meet Mr. CYisparkle ,..id try to throw suspicion upon 
Landless. 

Suspicion upon Landless grows, and it is only Mr. Grewgious who 
scents the true trail. He tells Jasper of the ring which Drood re- 
turned to him on the night of his supposed murder, and he frightens 
Jasper into believing that this ring must be amongst the dust in 
the vault where Drood’s body, in ins dream, was cast into lime. 
Surprising Jasper coming out of the vault, he holds up the ring, and 
Jasper, taking it for the last evidence of his guilt, falls in a faint. 
In the next scene he confesses the murder, and finally is found a 
dying man in the county gaol. There, again, in delirium, he is 
dreaming and shuddering at his crime. Mr. Crisparkle is comforting 
his last moments, when as an apparition to him comes Drood in tho 
flesh. Jasper, with enough return to consciousness to see Drood 
and Rosa brought to each other again before him, dies, and tho 
curtain falls with these two in forgiveness, mourning him. 

Edwin Drood makes a play which is full of weird and strange 
situations. For that, perhaps, it has so much fascination. Its 
fascination holds one and keeps one until the fall of the curtain ; 
it thrills one with the tenseness of its drama, and its rapid movement 
from one soul -stirring scene to another keeps one’s eyes intent upon 
the stage. It is so effective for its compactness, for tho amount of 
emotion which is compressed in so many small spaces, and while its 
development runs generally upon a rather morbid theme, it is a play 
that will rank very high in modern dramatic history. 

Mr. Tree is given a part which one may prophesy will be reckoned 
amongst his finest. Tn it ho has to reproduce and reconcile in 
one character two of the greatest passions — the lust of Hate and 
murder, and the force of love— both expressed towards the same 
person. Jasper hates and longs to murder Edwin Drood while yet 
no loves him. In the first scene one gets a vivid picture of Jasper’s 
mental attitude. One has compressed in two lines the idea which 
Dickens sought gently and gradually to convey of the whole char- 



118 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


acter. When Jasper, in his ravings, shouts, “ I would sweep the 
whole world aside,” and “ even him, although I love him as my son,” 
one sees the force which the other, stronger love has roused in a 
weakened, imbalanced brain, and one perceives the keynote to the 
whole tragedy. Mr. Tree has to make these counteracting forces 
blend into a consistency, and that he succeeds is a sufficient tribute 
to his art. Early in the play he shows us Jack and Ned as they 
first were, friends and eoniidants ; then suddenly, with dramatic 
gesture, with which Jasper breaks almost in repulsion from his 
friend’s arm, he shows how the baser side of the uncle’s disposition 
spasmodically asserts itself. 

As the play proceeds he shows how his baser side gradually over- 
powers the better, until in his great scene — the imaginary murder — 
he shows Jasper entirely lost in desire for Brood’s death. In this 
passage Mr. Tree has his best demanded of him. He pictures 
together the opium maniac’s babbling terror of his own phantasy, 
with the half-formed consciousness of his position, which helps him 
to hide the traces of his intent ioned crime. His was a most vivid 
piece of acting; its circumstances could not help reminding one of 
Sir Henry Irving’s climactic moments in The Belli, and the two 
will rank together as masterpieces in tragedy. 

Mr. Basil Gill gave a charming representation of the romantic 
title-role; and Miss Iris Hoey gave a perfectly truthful performance 
as the timid and gentle little heroine Rosa Bud. Especially was 
Mr. G, W. Anson noteworthy for his well-considered and consistent 
study of Hurdles. He has created a part in this which will stand 
amongst the best of Dickens’s humorous stage characters, while 
Mr. Haviland’s Mr. Grewgious was scarcely less effectual.— Western 
Mail , Cardiff, Friday, November 22, 1907. 

Mr. Comyns Carr’s play was produced in London, at His Majesty’s, 
on 4th January 1908, with Constance Collier, Adrienne Augarde, 
Cicely Richards, William Haviland, and Mr. [now Sir] Herbert 
Becrbohm Tree in the cast. 

AMERICAN DRAMATISATIONS. 

No account of Dickens’s part in the history of the drama is 
complete without reference to Brougham and Burton’s memorable 
work on the acted versions of Dickens’s stories, or to such realisal ions 
as Madame Janauschek’s Lady Dedloek, Joseph Jefferson’s Caleb 
Plummer and Newman Noggs, Placide’s Bumble, Burton’s 
Micawbcr, or Wallack’s Fagin. 

The appetite of managers and audiences was keen for Dickens 
when Copperfidd appeared. I have not been able to determine 
which house first announced a stage version, so nearly simultaneous 
were the productions. But certain it is that Dr. Northall’s version 
came first into the field on 30th December I8J0, at Burton’s Theatre. 
Seven days after, on the same evening, 0th January, two other 
Copper fields were presented; one at the Bowery Theatre and 
another at Brougham’s, which was the work of Brougham himself, 
and the celebrated manager-dramatist-actor played Micawber. 





120 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

The delay in Pickwick's appearance on the American stage is 
accounted for merely by the delay in the ocean voyage of the com- 
pleted Papa's. The company at the Franklin Theatre, New York, 
presented the “ comic play” for the first time on 24th July 1837. 
A more notable presentation was made the next spring by the 
excellent company at the Park Theatre, where it was after revived. 

Oliver Twist is instinct with melodrama, and it has ever been the 
most satisfactory material for the dramatists and the actors. No 
less celebrated a woman than Charlotte Cushman found Nancy 
Sikes a stepping-stone to appreciation, and Francis Courtney 
Wemyss, in liis Theatrical Biography , declares that “ in all her 
future career she never surpassed the excellence of that performance.” 

The great story of nether London appeared in Bentley s Miscellany 
early in 1838, and before the close of the year several theatres were 
receiving the crowds who came to see Charley Bates and the Artful 
Dodger, Bill and Nancy, Fagin and Bumble. 

With one exception Oliver Twist has probably been given in 
America more often than any other Dickens play. The first Ameri- 
can presentation of Oliver Twist , on 7th January 183b at the Franklin 
Theatre, was the occasion of Charles Mestayer’s debut. Of vastly 
greater interest and received with larger success was the second 
production, given one month later at the Park Theatre, under the 
title Oliver Twist , or the Parish Boy's Progress. This was the 
occasion of Miss Cushman's first appearance as Nancy Sikes. At 
Burton’s a revival was seen in December of 1851, when Burton gave 
his memorable Bumble, and another presentation it would have 
been good to have seen was the version made by Joseph Jefferson 
himself, and presented 2nd February 18b0, at tbe Winter Garden 
with the following familiar cast: Brownlow, J. H. Stoddard; 
Bumble, George Holland (father of our E. M., Joseph, and George 
Holland); Bill Sikes, G. Jordan; Fagin, James Wallack, jun. ; and 
Nancy Sikes, Matilde Heron. Fanny Davenport and Klita Proctor 
Otis have both been praised for their Nancy, and occasional revivals 
of Oliver are successfully given nowadays by the stock companies. 

There was palpably a scramble to be first to get Nicklcby on the 
stage in New York. It was given on 25th January 1839, at the 
National, and five days later, 30th January, at the Park, where 
Charlotte Cushman appeared as Fanny Sfjuccrs. A performance 
at Burton’s in January 1853, made one of the notable chain of 
Dickens plays for which this house was noted. At the Winter 
Garden throughout November 1853, Boucicault’s version was 
presented, with Dion Boucicault himself as Mantalini, Joseph 
Jefferson as Newman Noggs, Agnes Robertson as Smikc, and George 
Holland as the Specimen Boy. It was at one time a popular bill 
with A. M. Palmer’s great company at the Union Square. At all 
times the centre of dramatic interest has been Smike. So pro- 
nounced has this been that the adaptations most used have generally 
been called Smike , or, in some instances, The Fortunes of Smike . 

The mention of The Old Curiosity Shop in connection with the 
drama at once suggests Lotta, whose Little Nell and Marchioness 







122 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


are twin memories in Dickensian triumphs with Irving’s Jingle, 
Florence’s Cuttle, Cushman’s Nancy, and Jefferson’s Caleb. There 
have been but few other presentations, none notable, of this novel in 
America. The last is of recent memory, when at the Herald Square 
only two years ago Mary Saunders essayed what it is impossible 
to think of except as 44 Lotta’s old parts.” 

“ To Dombey and Son says Hutton in his Plays and Players , 
“ Burton owed much of his success as manager and actor ; Brougham 
' his first success as w T riter or adapter of plays, and Mrs. Hoey her 
great success as artist and public favourite ; and, above all, we, the 
public, are indebted to Dombey and Son for Mrs. Hoey, for Burton, 
for Brougham, and for the lesser stars it developed and presented to 
us. Let us, therefore, thank our 4 stars ’ for Dombey and Son , 
and Dombey and Son for our 4 stars.’ ” 

The play seems always to have been more popular in America 
than in England. It is not associated with any of the great names 
of the London stage, whereas here, in addition to those referred to 
by Hutton, the late W. J. Florence found in Cuttle an imperishable 
bond to the hearts of his audiences, and a reason for permanent fame 
unsustained even by any of his other celebrated creations. When 
he visited England Punch assented that Phiz-ically Florence was 
Cuttle down to the ground, and his success was otherwise un- 
qualified. Dickens himself declared that the American comedian 
had thoroughly realised his conception of the character. When 
Dickens saw Florence as Cuttle, the play was being acted in Man- 
chester, and Henry Irving gave, no doubt, admirable support in the 
role of Mr. Dombey. In England this adaptation is sometimes 
billed as Heart's Delight. 

Reference has already been made to the vogue which attended 
the American stage-birth of David Copper field. It was almost a 
duplicate of the quartette of simultaneous productions of Martin 
Chuzzlewit. It seems, however, to have been a Hash in the pan. 
Some English praise survives for Samuel Emery as Dan'l Peggotty, 
and Micawber has proved a blessed opportunity to several of our 
comedians, from Burton to Stuart Robson; but, though in point of 
popularity it stands among the first of the novels, it is among the 
least of the plays. Bleak House and Little Dorrit followed in 
succession, but left no permanent impression beyond Jennie Lee’s 
perennial Jo, in England, and, in America, the opportunity which 
Janauschek found to wrest a memorable triumph from Daily Ded- 
Jock and Hortense. A somewhat fluffy statesman said, after seeing 
Bleak House in Washington : “ Janauschek as Lady Dedlock was 
most artistic, nevertheless the woman who acted Hortense was 
really greater.” 

Toby Veck in The Chimes found a remarkable exponent in this 
country in Charles Burke, an admired comedian. 

The first Christmas next after its publication A Christmas Cared , 
Stirling’s version, was the festival bill at the Park, New York, and 
succeeding Yuletides saw various repetitions. 

There remains only to tell of the stage career of the fifth of the 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 123 

Christmas stories, The Cricket on the Hearth , which is the one 
Dickens adaptation preserved for our present enjoyment. Origin- 
ally it was presented “ in three chirps,” at the City of London 
Theatre, 7th January 1846, just a fortnight after its appearance in 
book form. Albert Smitli was the author of the version seen the 
twenty-lirst of the month following at the Park Theatre. He 
included a character of which I have not been able to find any other 
trace, the Spirit of the Cricket. The early versions were, however, 
decidedly crude, and were characterised, as were all the first adapta- 
tions of Dickens, by the haste with which they were rushed before 
the public after the appearance of the respective stories. Dion 
Boucicault made a new version, the one concurrently presented, 
and it was acted for the lirst time 14th September 1859, under tho 
title Dot. After that night it was always Caleb and not Dot whom 
the public came to see. Joseph Jefferson was the toy-maker of that 
memorable evening, and this creation lias survived as one of the 
principal supports of his fame. — Paul_Wilstach, in The Bookman 
(New York), September 1901/ 

j. r. planch# 'and the fairies. 

In 1855 I had the pleasure of receiving the following kind note 
from Charles Dickens : 

“ Tavistock House, 

“ Sunday , Seventh January , 1855. 

“ Dear Planch#, — My children have a little story-book play 
under paternal direction once a year on a birthday occasion. They 
are going to do Fortunio to-morrow night, with which I have taken 
some liberties for their purpose. If you should happen to be dis- 
engaged, we should be delighted to see you, and you would meet 
some old stagers whom you kno\v very well. We all know you to 
be on such familiar terms with the fairies that tho smallest actor in 
tho company is not afraid of you. .1 am obliged to appoint a quarter 
past 8 (1 mean that for an eight) as t lie latest hour of arrival, because 
the theatre is almost as inconveniently constructed as an English 
real one, and nobody can by any human means be got into it after 
the play is begun. — Very faithfully yours, 

Charles Dickens. 

“ J. R. Plane he. Esq.” 

I w r as fortunately not engaged, and enjoyed the evening exceed- 
ingly. Tho little actors did credit to the ” paternal direction”; 
and Dickens's histrionic ability is almost as generally well known 
as his admirable contributions to English literature. Ho was as 
fond of fairy lore as I w as, and it was a great bond of union between 
us. He was extremely delighted on hearing one day, when we 
dined together at tho house of a mutual friend, that I was about to 
publish a complete collection of the Countess d’Aulnoy’s stories, and 
on my sending him an early copy, w ith a portrait of the Countess for 
frontispiece, acknowledged its receipt in a note. — P 3. 



124 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


VIEWS ON CONTEMPORARY ACTORS. 

Dickens took great interest in theatrical affairs, and was very 
fond of theatrical society. He had a lifelong affection for Mac ready, 
and a great regard for Regnier and Fechter ; of the latter he said 
once to me, “ He has the brain of a man, combined with that strange 
power of arriving, without knowing how or why, at the truth, which 
one usually finds only in a woman.” ITe had also a liking for 
Phelps, Buckstone, Webster, Madame Celeste, and the Keeleys. 
He saw most of the pieces which were produced from time to time, 
but he delighted in the ir-regular drama, the shows and booths and 
circuses. — Y. 

Mr. James T. Fields, the American publisher and intimate friend 
of Dickens, says : 

“ He was passionately fund of the theatre, loved the lights and 
music and flowers, and the happy faces of the audience. He was 
accustomed to say that his love of the theatre never failed, and, no 
matter how dull the play, he was always careful while he sat in the 
box to make no sound which could hurt the feelings of the actors, 
or show any lack of attention. His genuine enthusiasm for Mr. 
Fech tor’s acting was most interesting. He loved to describe seeing 
him first, quite by accident, in Paris, having strolled into a little 
theatre there one night. 4 He was making love to a woman,’ Dickens 
said, 4 and he so elevated her as well as himself by the sentiment in 
which he enveloped her, that they trod in a purer ether, and in 
another sphere, quite lifted out of the present. By Heavens I I 
said to myself, a man who can do this can do anything. 1 never 
saw two people more purely and instantly elevated by the power of 
love. The manner also,’ he continued, ‘ in which he presses the 
hem of the dress of Lucy, in The Bride of Lamm er moor , is something 
wonderful. The man has genius in him which is unmistakable.’ 

P 2. 

In the latter days of Macready’s life, when the weight of time and 
of sorrow pressed him down, Dickens was his most frequent visitor: 
he cheered him with narratives of bygone days ; lie poured some 
of his own abundant warmth into his heart ; he led him into his 
own channels of thought ; he gave readings to rouso his interest; 
he waked up in him again, by his vivid descriptions, his sense of 
humour — he conjured back his smile and his laugh. — Macready as 
I knew Him , by Lady Pollock. 

On 29th April 1863, Carlyle wrote: “ I had to go yesterday to 
Dickens’s reading, 8 p.m., Hanover Rooms, to the complete up- 
setting of my evening habitudes and spiritual composure. Dickens 
does do it capitally, such as it is ; acts better than any Macready 
in the world ; a whole tragic, comic, heroic theatre visible perform- 
ing under one hat and keeping us laughing — in a sorry way, some 
of us thought — the whole night. He is a good creature, too, and 
makes fifty or sixty pounds by each of these readings.” — Thomas 
Carlyle , by J. A. Froudo. 



DICKENS AND THE STAGE. 


125 


A FRIEND OF THE ACTOR. 

On I4th February 1866, Dickens, speaking as Chairman at the 
annual dinner of the Dramatic, Equestrian, and Musical Fund, 
paid the following tribute to actors as a class : 

“ There is no class of society the members of which so well help 
themselves, or so well help each other. Not in the whole grand 
chapters of Westminster Abbey and York Minster, not in the whole 
quadrangle of the Royal Exchange, not in the whole list of members 
of the Stock Exchange, not in the Inns of Court, not in the College 
of Surgeons, can there possibly be found more remarkable instances 
of uncomplaining poverty, of cheerful, constant self-denial, of the 
generous remembrance of the claims of kindred and professional 
brotherhood, than will certainly be found in the dingiest and dirtiest 
concert-room, in the least lucid theatre — even in the raggedest tent- 
circus that was ever stained by weather. I have been twitted in 
print before now with rather flattering actors when I address 
them as one of their trustees at their General Fund dinner. Believe 
me, I flatter nobody, unless it be s< -Retimes myself ; but, in such a 
company as the present, I always feel it my manful duty to bear 
my testimony to this fact — first, because it is opposed to a stupid, 
unfeeling libel ; secondly, because my doing so may afford some 
slight encouragement to the persons who are unjustly depreciated ; 
and lastly, and most of all, because I know* it is the truth .*’ — S L 



VI 


ON HIS TRAVELS 

The following extract from a speech of Dickens on 30th December 
1854, at the Anniversary Dinner of the Commercial Travellers’ 
Schools, gives a vivid idea of the contrast between the methods 
of travel in his day and our own : 

I think it may be assumed that most of us here present 
know something about travelling. I do not mean in distant 
regions or foreign countries, although 1 dare say some of us 
have had experience in that way, but at home, and within 
the limits of the United Kingdom. 1 dare say most of us 
have had experience of the extinct ‘ fast coaches,’ the Wonders, 
Taglionis, and Tallyhos, of other days, I dare say most of us 
remember certain modest postchaises, dragging us down interminable 
roads, through slush and mud, to little country towns with no 
visible population, except half a dozen men in smock-frocks, half 
a dozen women with umbrellas and pattens, and a washed-out 
dog or so shivering under the gables, to complete the desolate 
picture. We can all discourse, 1 dare say, if so minded, about 
our recollections of The Talbot, The Queen's Head, or The Lion of 
those days. We have all been to the room on the ground door on 
one side of the old inn-yard, not quite free from a certain fragrant 
smell of tobacco, where the cruets on the sideboard were usually 
absorbed by the skirts of the box-coats that hung from the wail ; 
where awkward servants waylaid us at every turn, like so many 
human man-traps ; where county members, framed and glazed, were 
eternally presenting that petition which, somehow or other, had 
made their glory in the country, although nothing else had ever 
come of it; where the books in the windows always wanted the 
first, last, and middle leaves, and where the one man was always 
arriving at some unusual hour in the night, and requiring his break- 
fast at a similarly singular period of the day. I have no doubt we 
could all be very eloquent on the comforts of our favourite hotel, 
wherever it was — its beds, its stables, its vast amount of posting, its 
excellent cheese, its head waiter, its capital dishes, its pigeon-pies, 
or its 1820 port. Or possibly we could recall our chaste and innocent 
admiration of its landlady, or our fraternal regard for its handsome 
chambermaid. A celebrated domestic critic once writing of a 
famous actress, renowned for her virtue and beauty, gave her the 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 127 

character of being an ‘eminently gatherable-to-one’s-arms sort 
of person.’ Perhaps someone amongst us has borne a somewhat 
similar tribute to the mental charms of the fair deities who presided 
at our hotels. 

“ With the travelling characteristics of later times, we are all, 
no doubt, equally familiar. We know all about that statiop to 
which we must take our tickets, although we never get there ; 
and the other one at which we arrive after dark, certain to find 
it half a mile from the town, where the old road is sure to have 
been abolished, and the new road is going to be made — w r hcre the 
old neighbourhood has been tumbled down, and the new one is 
not half built up. We know all about that party on the platform 
who, with the best intentions, can do nothing for our luggage 
except pitch it into all sorts of unattainable places. We know 
all about that short omnibus, in which one is to be doubled up, to 
the imminent danger of the crown of one’s hat ; and about that 
fly, whose leading peculiarity is never to be there when it is wanted. 
We know, too, how instantaneouslv the lights of the station dis- 
appear when the train starts, and about that grope to the new 
Railway Hotel, which will be an excellent house when the customers 
come, but which at present has nothing to offer but a liberal allow- 
ance of damp mortar and new lime.” — S 1. 

Addressing an audience interested (like himself) in the welfare 
of the Commercial Travellers’ Schools, in January 18C0, Dickens 
assumed for the nonce “the character and title of a Traveller 
Uncommercial.” “ I am both a town traveller and a country 
traveller,” he said, “ and am always on the road. Figuratively 
speaking, I travel from the great house of Human -interest Brothers, 
and have rather a large connection in the fancy-goods way. Liter- 
ally speaking I am always wandering here and there from my 
rooms in Covent Garden, London : now about the city streets, now 
about the country by-roads, seeing many little things, and some 
great things, which, because they interest' me, I think may interest 
others .” — K 1. 

“ IN HIS BEST FRENCH.” 

On landing at Boulogne, July 1844, he went to the bank for 
.money, delivering in his best French a rather long address to the 
clerk behind the counter, and was much disconcerted by that 
official inquiring in the “ native-born Lombard Street manner — 
How would you like to take it, sir ? ’ K 1. 

The across -the -Channel suburb of Folkestone was very popular 
with the Bouverie Street Brotherhood. Dickens loved Boulogne, 
and was much honoured by the inhabitants. 

“ Tj^°k ^ 10 wa y the .y treat him ! ” exclaimed an envious writer : 

j e ^ me t on the quay by the Mayor, and conducted to a banquet. 

‘mS »?° *° P 011 * 0 # 110 they don’t let off fireworks in my honour ! ” 
No, replied my father, “ for, when you go to Boulogne, you 
take good care that no one should learn your address I ” 



128 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


{Boulogne in those days was the sanctuary for those avoiding 
imprisonment for debt.) — A. 

I N A “ PINK JAIL.” 

The 16th of July 1844 found him in the Villa di Bagnarello at 
Albaro, a suburb of Genoa, which had been taken for him by his 
whimsical friend Angus Fletcher, who then lived near at hand. 
The novelist described tho villa as an unpicturesque and uninteresting 
dwelling, resembling a “ Fink Jail ” — “ the most perfectly lonely, 
rusty, stagnant old staggerer of a domain that you can possibly 
imagine . . . the stable is so full of * vermin and swarmers ’ that 
I always expect to see the carriage going out bodily, with legions 
of industrious fleas harnessed to and drawing it oh, on their own 
account .” — K 1. 

TRAVELLING LETTERS. 

We all started oh one morning from Paris on our way south in 
that wonderful travelling carriage which is so graphically described 
in the Pictures from Italy; and I can remember many* walks with 
my father up apparently interminable hills in the lonely French 
country districts, many queer dirty little towns, the shabby sights 
of which had to be explored as if they were really quite well worth 
seeing, many cheery meals and snacks produced as by the con- 
jurer's art from the innumerable pockets of the carriage, many 
wild roadside inns where in some mysterious way peculiar to himself 
my father, aided and abetted by the excellent courier who was in 
charge of the caravan, evolved order out of chaos, comfort out of 
squalor, and cheery, kindly attention out of the original sulky 
apathy. Of my father at Albaro and afterwards at Genoa in 1844 
and 1845 I have, strange to say, but a dim recollection, though I 
have many vivid reminiscences of the vineyards of tho “ Pink 
Jail,” as he called the house at Albaro, and of tho fine terraced 
gardens of tho Palazzo Peschiere in the beautiful city itself.— 
Charles Dickens, the younger, in North A merican Review , May 1895. 

ENGLISn k LA WELLER. 

The visit to Italy often formed a subject for conversation with 
Dickens, and only a few r weeks before his death he told Mr. Arthur 
Locker this anecdote of his experiences there. 

“ Mr. Dickens, on one occasion, visited a certain monastery, and 
was conducted over the building by a young monk, who, though 
a native of tho country, spoke remarkably fluent English. There 
was, however, one peculiarity about his pronunciation. He 
frequently misplaced his v T s and w’s. ‘ Have you been in England ? 9 
asked Mr. Dickens. ‘No,* replied the monk, ‘I have learnt my 
English from this book/ producing Pickwick ; and it further ap- 
peared that he had selected Mr. Samuel Weller as the beau iddal 
of elegant pronunciation.” — II 4. 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


129 


A VISIT TO VICTOR HUGO. 

From Paris, early in 1847, our author writes to Lady Blessington, 
describing his visit to Victor Hugo, then residing in the French 
capital. Twelve months after this, the great French novelist 
had to fly. The coup d'etat brought about a new order of things : 

“ We were [writes Dickens] at V. H.’s house last Sunday week — 
a most extraordinary place, something like an old curiosity shop, 
or the property-room of some gloomy, vast old theatre. I was 
much struck by H. himself, who looks like a genius — ho is, every 
inch of him, and is very interesting and satisfactory from head to 
foot. His wife is a handsome woman, with flashing black eyes. 
There is also a charming ditto daughter, of fifteen or sixteen, with 
ditto eyes. Sitting among old armour and old tapestry, and old 
coffers, and grim old chairs and tables, and old canopies of state 
from old palaces, and old golden lions going to play at skittles with 
ponderous old golden balls, that made a most romantic show,” and 
looked like a chapter out of one of his own books . — II 4. 

The text of this letter as sold at Sotheby’s, and given in the 
newspapers.a little while ago, differs somewhat from the foregoing* 
particularly in the references to Mine, and Mile. Hugo. 

BE AUCOURT-MUTIJE L. 

After his last visit to Boulogne, Beaucourt-Mutuel fades out, 
and we see no more of him, as we would have liked to have done. 
“ Boz” parted from him in 1856, and died, as we know, in 1870; 
but his host survived him eleven years, and was buried at Condette, 
a pleasant village south of Boulogne, and many miles away from 
his “ property,” at the north of the town. He lies beside the church, 
which boasts a modest Gothic steeple. His tomb is a stone with 
a huge plain stone cross reared upon it, and with this inscription : 

“ Ici repose le corps do Monsieur Ferdinand Beaucourt, 6poux 
de Fran^oise Mutucl, ne a Bethunc, decede a Condette, le 8 mai, 
1881, & l’age de 75 ana et 8 mois.” 

On the other side of the stone is a most touching tribute paid to 
Dickens, and one, too, that would havo gladdened his heart. The 
widow, in her natural pride at the colebrity which the grand 
romancier had given her husband, had caused to be “ cut ” on the 
stone a passage from Oar French Watering-Place : “The Landlord 
of whom Charles Dickens wrote, 4 1 never did sec such a gentle, 
kind heart. 1 ” — F 2. (M. Beaucourt-Mutuel was the “ M. Loyal ” of 

the sketch, Our French Watering-Place.) 

TRAGIC HOLIDAY INCIDENT. 

In February 1849 Dickons spent a holiday at Brighton, accom- 
panied by his wife and sister-in-law and two daughters, and they 
wet© joined bv the gonial artist John Leech and his wife. They had 
not been in their lodgings a week when both his landlord and his 
landlord’s daughter went raving mad, this untoward circumstance 
compelling the lodgers to seek quarters elsewhere — at the Bedford 

5 



130 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Hotel. “ If/* wrote Dickens, when relating the adventure to 
Forster, “ you could have heard the cursing and crying of the two ; 
could have seen the physician and nurse quoited out into the passage 
by the madman at the hazard of their lives ; could have seen Leech 
and me flying to the doctor’s rescue ; could have seen our wives 
pulling us back ; could have seen the M.D. faint with fear ; could 
have seen three other M.D.s come to his aid ; with an atmosphere 
of Mrs. Gamps, strait- waistcoats, struggling friends and servants, 
surrounding the whole, you would have said it was quite worthy of 
me, and quite in keeping with my usual proceedings .” — K 3. 

IilS FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA. 

On his first visit to America in 1S42, the novelist, referring to 
the lack of accommodation on board the Britannia , thus wrote to 
Thomas Mitton : 

“ Anything so utterly and monstrously absurd as the size of our 
cabin, * no gentleman of England who lives at home at ease ’ can 
for a moment imagine. Neither of the portmanteaus would go 
into it. There ! . . . The ladies’ cabin is so close to purs that I 
could knock the door open without getting off something they call 
my bed, but which 1 believe to be a muflin beaten flat.” 

Charles Dickens made his first visit to the United States in the 
opening month of 1842. Washington Irving headed the list of 
distinguished authors who wrote to urge his coming. Assured of 
a hearty welcome, Dickens sailed with his wife from Liverpool on 
4th January 184*2, landing at Boston eighteen days later. His 
reception in that city was enough to turn the head of an older man. 
Mrs. Dickens, writing home a few days after their arrival, spoke of 
it as “ something not to be described,” and added : 44 It will be the 
same, they tell us, all through America.” And it was. In New 
York, whence he journeyed from Boston, the ex-chancellor of the 
State, the judge of the courts, eminent lawyers and leading men of 
science and of letters, along with prominent representatives of the 
pulpit and the medical profession, all joined hands to welcome 
Dickens. There were parties and receptions in his honour ; there was 
a dinner, presided over by Irving and attended by Bryant, Halleek, 
and many another ; and there was the famous 44 Boz Ball ” at the 
Park Theatre on 14th February 1842. 44 Kate and I,” said Dickens 
in a letter to John Forster, 44 were twice marched around before tho 
ball began, escorted by Golden in evening dress, and Morris ” — tho 
partner of Willis — 44 in a uniform of heaven knows what regiment of 
militia, while we were surrounded by three thousand people in full 
dress packed from roof to floor, with the house magnificently 
decorated, and amid lights, glitter, glare, show, noise, and cheering.*’ 

For months thereafter Knickerbockers talked of little else than 
the Dickens Ball. Meanwhile, Dickens, travelling through tho 
South and West, met everywhere with cordial and affectionate 
welcome. Yet at the end of a few months he returned to England 
a disappointed and embittered man. He had sought to secure the 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


131 


passage by Congress of a copyright law that would assure adequate 
protection to the interests of foreign authors, counting confidently 
upon his own great popularity to carry the matter through. He 
counted without his host. Failure gave him acquaintance with a 
phase of Yankee character not at all to his liking, and led to the 
publishing, in 1843, of his American Notes . These purported to be 
accurate sketches of life in the United States, but they w ere nothing 
of the kind. Instead, they were a series of sneers at American 
ways, manners and people. The bad taste that led to the printing 
of such a book, after the generous treatment which Dickens had 
received in the States, no one can dispute. It is only fair to add 
that its publication was subsequently much regretted by the author. 
— Rufus Rockwell Wilson, in The Bookman (New York), vol. xiii. 

Professor Felton, alluding to the death of Washington Irving in 
a speech, in the latter part of the year 1859, gave this interest- 
ing reminiscence of the friendship existing between Dickens and 
Irving : 

“ The time when I saw the most Oj. Mr. Irving was in the winter 
of 1842, during the visit of Mr. Charles Dickens in New York. I 
passed much of the time with Mr. Irving and Mr. Dickens, and it 
was delightful to witness the cordial intercourse of the young man, 
in the flush and glory of his youthful genius, and his elder compeer, 
then in the assured possession of immortal renowm. Dickens said, 
in his frank hearty manner, that, from his childhood, he had known 
the works of Irving ; and that, before he thought of coming to this 
country, he had received a letter from him, expres sing the delight 
he felt in reading the story of k Little Nell ’ ; and from that day they 
had shaken hands, autographically , across the Atlantic 

“ Great and varied as was the genius of Mr. Irving, there was one 
thing he shrank with a comical terror from attempting, and that 
was a dinner speech. A great dinner, however, was to be given to 
Mr. Dickens in New York, as one had already been given in Boston, 
and it was evident to all that no man like Washington Irving could 
be thought of to preside. With all his dread of making a speech, 
he was obliged to obey the universal call, and to accept the painful 
pre-eminence. I saw him daily during the interval of preparation, 
either at the lodgings of Dickens, or at dinner, or at evening parties. 
1 hoped I show r eil no want of sympathy with his forebodings, but I 
could not help being amused with his tragi-comical distress which 
the thought of that approaching dinner had caused him. ... At 
length the long-expected evening arrived. A company of the most 
eminent persons, from ail the professions and every w r alk of life, 
were assembled, and Mr. Irving took the chair. I had gladly 
accepted an invitation, making it, however, a condition that I 
should not be called upon to speak — a thing I then dreaded quite 
as much as Mr. Irving himself. ... I had the honour to be placed 
next but one to Mr. Irving, and the great pleasure of sharing in his 
conversation. ‘ I shall certainly break down,’ ho repeated over and 
over again. At last the moment arrived. Mr. Irving arose, and 
was received with deafening and long-continued applause, which by 



132 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


no means lessened his apprehension. He began in his pleasant 
voice ; got through two or three sentences pretty easily, but in the 
next hesitated ; and, after one or two attempts to go on, gave it 
up, with a graceful allusion to the tournament, and the troop of 
knights all armed and eager for the fray ; and ended with the toast, 
1 Charles Dickens, the guest of the nation.’ 4 There ! ’ said he, as 
he resumed his seat under a repetition of the applause which had 
saluted his rising, — ‘ there ! I told you I should break down, and 
I’ve done it.’ 

44 There certainly never was a shorter after-dinner speech ; and 
I doubt if there ever was a more successful one. The manuscript 
seemed to be a dozen pages long, but the printed speech was not 
as many lines. 

“ Mr. Irving often spoke with good-humoured envy of the felicity 
with which Dickens always acquitted himself on such occasions.” — 
U 4. 

WELL WORTH THE FLOGGING. 

In 1842 news came that Charles Dickens had arrived in America, 
and presently it was announced that on a certain day he was to pass 
through Fredericksburg on his way to Richmond. Ho was to come 
by steamboat from Washington to A quia landing, thence by stage 
to Fredericksburg, alighting only for lunch at Farmer’s Hotel. 
The prospect of setting eyes on the greatest man in the world filled 
me with such emotion that my parents agreed that I might in their 
name ask Mr. Hanson for the necessary permission to leave school 
a little before the midday recess. The usage when we wished to 
leave the schoolroom temporarily was to stand silently before the 
master. This I did, but he happened to bo irritated by someone 
in the class he was hearing, and motioned me oil. On my en- 
deavouring to say I had permission of my parents ho ordered me 
to my seat. Thither I returned, jumped out of an open window, 
seven or eight feet from the ground, and reached the inn just as the 
author was alighting. On my return to school just after recess, 
there was a dead silence ; my leap had been observed by many, and 
none knew the reason for it. Mr. Hanson stood pale and agitated, 
for I had been hitherto obedient. My brother Peyton was absent, 
and I was too much dazed by the situation to arrest by any plea the 
impending switch. It was the only Hogging I ever received in 
school, and feeling that it was unmerited I bore it without a word 
or a tear. But tout com prendre, e'est tout pardonner. The dear old 
master when he le arned the whole story was more troubled than I 
was, for I had got a good look at Dickens. — 0 3. 

AFTER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. 

Almost twenty-five years after his first visit Dickens came a 
second time to America. In 1807 he determined to give a series of 
readings from his works in the United States in order, as we know 
now, to recuperate an exchequer that had been too heavily drawn 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


133 


upon. At first he feared that old grudges might be remembered 
against him, but he was happily mistaken. David Copperfield , 
Bleak House> and Our Mutual Friend had caused American Notes 
to be forgiven if not forgotten, and the welcome given their author 
was as sincere and hearty as that accorded him in his youth. His 
readings, from the first given in Boston in November 1867, to the 
last one in New York, five months later, were an unparalleled 
success. Wherever he went great audiences crowded to greet him, 
and the seventy-six readings which he gave in various cities of the 
country yielded him a net profit of upwards of $180,000. 

Not less cordial were the personal welcomes extended to the- 
great novelist — welcomes which reached a fitting climax in the well- 
remembered Press dinner given to him at Delmonico’s on the night 
of 18th April 1868 This dinner, arranged by a committee of the 
New York Press, represented authorship and journalism from 
Maine to Texas, and over the great West to California. It was a 
noble gathering — two hundred guests from all parts of the Union, 
and all men of authority and renown. Horace Greeley, then in the 
prime of health and genius, presided, with Dickens on his right and 
Henry J. Raymond on his left, and opened the speaking in an address 
of persuasive eloquence and humour. His commencement was unique, 
for he began by telling how more than thirty years before he had 
established a weekly paper called the New Yorker. “ In looking 
about/’ said he, “ for matter to fill my literary department I ran 
against some sketches from a cheap English periodical, which I at 
once transferred to my paper. These sketches were by an unknown 
author, who wrote under the appellation of ‘ Boz.’ So I think I can 
claim to be the first one who introduced Mr. Dickem to this country.” 
Then he went on in his crisp, quaint, original way to tell how he 
had tried in a Florentine inn to read David Copperfield in Italian, 
ending with a toast which made every glass ring : “ Health and 
happiness, honour, and generous, because just, recompense to our 
friend and guest, Charles Dickens.” 

When the applause had died away, Dickens arose to reply. Many 
of his readings had been given when the reader was tortured by the 
maladies which beset his closing years, and he had come from a sick- 
bed to attend the dinner given in his honour. Yet wo are told he 
spoke with an ease marvellous to. those who knew his suffering. 
He spoke from memory, for his speech had been prepared with care, 
amid the closest attention and at times enraptured applause. There 
was a figure at the end — it were better for America and England to 
go back to the ice age, and be given over to the Arctic fox and bear 
than fight — that brought every guest to his feet ; and as he dat 
down in a burst of cheers the band played “ God Save the Queen.” 

Four days later Dickens sailed for home, “Come to England 
when the hedges are in bloom and report at Gad’s Hill,” werb his 
parting words to a friend at the steamer’s side. In June 1870 this 
friend came to England, and found the hedges in bloom, but — no 
master at Gad’s Hill. Dickens had died three days before, and the 
American who had planned to be his guest was only in time to see 



134 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the flowers still fresh on the slab over his grave in Westminster 
Abbey. — Rufus Rockwell Wilson, in The Bookman (New York), 
vol. xiii. 

ANGLO-AMERICAN RELATIONS. 

Here is the text of the concluding part of Dickens’s speech at 
Delmonico’s : 

u What I have intended, what I have resolved upon (and this is 
the confidence I seek to place in you) is, on my return to England, in 
my own person, to bear, for the behoof of my countrymen, such 
testimony to the gigantic changes in this country as I have hinted at 
to-night. Also, to record that wherever I have been, in the smallest 
places equally with the largest, I have been received with unsurpass- 
able politeness, delicacy, sweet temper, hospitality, consideration, 
and with unsurpassable respect for the privacy daily enforced upon 
me by the nature of my avocation here, and the state of my health. 
This testimony, so long as I live, and so long as my descendants 
have any legal right in my books, I shall cause to l>£ republished, 
as an appendix to every copy of those two books of mine in which I 
have referred to America. And this I will do and cause to be done, 
not in mere love and thankfulness, but because I regard it as an act 
of plain justice and honour. 

4i If I kno^v anything of my countrymen — and they give me credit 
for knowing something — if I know anything of my countrymen, 
gentlemen, the English heart is stirred by the fluttering of those 
Stars and Stripes, as it is stirred by no other flag that flies except its 
own. If 1 know my countrymen, in any and every relation towards 
America, they begin, not as Sir Anthony Absolute recommended 
that lovers should begin, with k a little aversion,’ but with a great 
liking and a profound respect ; and whatever the little sensitiveness 
of the moment, or the little official passion, or the little official 
policy now, or then, or here, or there, may be, take my word for it, 
that the first enduring, great, popular consideration in England is a 
generous construction of justice. 

“ Finally, gentlemen, and I say this subject to your correction, 
I do believe that from the great majority of honest minds on both 
sides, there cannot be absent the conviction that it would t>e better 
for this globe to be riven by an earthquake, fired by a comet, over- 
run by an iceberg, and abandoned to the Arctic fox and bear, than 
that it should present the spectacle of these two great nations, each 
of which has, in its own way and hour, striven so hard and so success- 
fully for freedom, ever again being arrayed the one against the 
other .” — S 1. 

COOLNESS IN PERIL. 

While Dickens was staying at an hotel in New York, December 
1867, there was a fire. It was with difficulty located, and the 
novelist had to be awakened for fear of the fire spreading. His 
presence of mind served to calm the guests. — Dolby gives a very 
long account, without much incident, on pages 191 to 195. 





136 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


ADVENTURE IN A SNOWSTORM. 

Once while in this country [America] on a bitter, freezing after- 
noon — night coming down in a drifting snowstorm — he was returning 
with me from a long walk in the country. The wind and baffling 
sleet were so furious that the street in which we happened to be 
fighting our way ’was quite deserted ; it w r as almost impossible to 
see across it, the air w r as so thick with the tempest : all conversation 
between us had ceased, for it was only possible for us to breast the 
storm by devoting our wffiole energies to keeping on our feet ; we 
seemed to be walking in a different atmosphere from any we had ever 
before encountered. All at once I missed Dickens from my side. 
What had become of him ? Had he gone down in the drift, utterly 
exhausted, and was the snow burying him out, of sight? Very 
soon the sound of his cheery voice was heard on the other side of the 
way. With great difficulty, over the piled-up snow, I struggled 
across the street, and there found him lifting up, almost by main 
force, a blind old man who had got bewildered by the storm, and 
had fallen down unnoticed, quite unable to proceed. Dickens, a 
long distance away from him, with that tender, sensitive, and 
penetrating vision, ever on the alert for suffering in any form, had 
rushed at once to the rescue, comprehending at a glance the situa- 
tion of the sightless man. To help him to his feet and aid him home- 
ward in the most simple and natural way afforded Dickens such a 
pleasure as only the benevolent by intuition understand . — F 1. 

AS A PEDESTRIAN. 

Mr. Dickens’s capabilities as a pedestrian had been discussed in 
America long before he arrived there, and our Transatlantic friends 
were not satisfied until a “ match ” had been brought about. This 
was arranged at Boston, betwixt Mr. Dolby (Mr. Dickens’s English 
agent) and Mr. Osgood (the American publisher). The distance 
was to be twelve miles, and the contest was to take place on the 
Mill-dam Road, towards Newton. Mr. Dickens and Mr. Fields 
(the publisher) were to be umpires, ahd had to walk the whole 
twelve miles with their respective men. Immediately the match 
was made know, the papers teemed with particulars concerning 
it. “ Dickens,” one journal said, “ was a superb pedestrian, good 
for thirty miles ‘ on end ’ any day.” The “ articles ” were drawn up 
by the great author, and subscribed to by all four gentlemen. The 
public were, however, not made acquainted with the place or the 
time until after the contest was over. The affair came off on the 
following Saturday, at twelve o’clock. The pedestrians were all, 
it is said, “appropriately costumed, and. they went at a tremendous 
pace. The first six miles were accomplished in one hour and twenty- 
three nlinutes, and the return six miles were finished by Mr. Osgood 
(the American) in one. hour and twenty-five minutes, lie winning the 
match by exactly seven minutes. An elegant dinner was given 
by Mr. Dickens at the Parker House, the same evening, to signalise 
the occasion. This anecdote shows the heartiness with which he 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


137 


entered into any healthy outdoor sport he cared to join in, and his 
gameness and youthful vigour in keeping up with men not more 
than half his age. — H 4. 

The “ Articles of Agreement ” for the race had been drawn up in 
Baltimore and sent to his friend Fields in Boston, with this injunc- 
tion, “ Keep them in a place of profound safety, for attested execu- 
tion, until my arrival in Boston.” Section 5 of these 44 Articles ” 
says that “ a sporting narrative of the match ” was to be written by 
Dickens within a w T eek of the event, and that the same was to be 
printed in the form of a broadside, a copy of which was to be care- 
fully preserved by each of the subscribers to the articles. These 
“ broadsides,” of which only a very few copies were printed, measure 
20 by 13 inches, and were printed in red and black with a border 
in gold. 

The text of the “ Articles of Agreement ” and the “ Sporting 
Narrative,” both of which are by Dickens, were printed by Fields 
in his Yesterdays with Authors , but ne there submitted dashes for 
the actual names of the participants in the match and omitted also 
the names of those who w r ero to be invited to the dinner at the 
Parker House, as stipulated in Section 6 of the Articles. A few 
days before the match Dickens and Fields had w r alked over the 
course 44 at the rate of not less than four miles an hour, for one hour 
and a half.” Fields says of this preliminary tramp, 44 I have seen 
a great many v r alkers, but never one with whom I found it such hard 
work to keep up.” Dickens’s object, of course, was to mako the 
distance to be covered by the actual competitors on the appointed 
day as long as possible. Newton Centre was tH turning-point, 
and there, both being winded, they sought some refreshment. But 
“ a few sickly looking oranges ” were all they could find. These 
they ato sitting on the doorstep of the little shop.” — The Book- 
man (New York), vol. xiii. \The Bookman reproduces one of the 
“ broadsides” referred to.] 

MISTAKEN FOR A “ SMASHER.” 

A story is told that on one pedestrian occasion Dickens was 
taken for a 44 smasher.” He had retired to rest at Gad’s Hil£ but 
found he could not sleep, when he determined to turn out, dress, 
and walk up to London — some thirty miles. He reached the 
suburbs in the grey morning, and applied at an 44 early ” coffee- 
house for some refreshment, tendering for the same a sovereign, the 
smallest coin he happened to have about him. 

“ It’s a bad ’un,” said the man, biting at it, and trying to twist 
it in all directions, 44 and I shall give you in charge.” Sure enough 
the coin did have a suspicious look. Mr. Dickens had carried some 
substance in his pocket which had oxydized it. Seeing that matters 
looked awkward, he at once said, 44 But I am Charles Dickens.” 

“Come, that won’t do; any man could say he was ‘Charles 
Dickens.’ How do I know ? ” The man had been victimised only 
the week previously, and at length, at Mr. Dickens’s suggestion 



138 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


it was arranged that they should go to a chemist to have the coin 
tested with aquafortis. In due course, when the shops opened, a 
chemist was found, who immediately recognised the great novelist 
— notwithstanding his dusty appearance — and the coffee-house 
keeper was satisfactorily convinced that he had not been enter- 
taining a “ smasher.” — H 4. 

A SLUMMING EXPEDITION. 

In the latter days of ’55 we went on what would nowadays be 
called a “ slumming ” expedition. A friend of Dickens’s, a certain 
M. Delarue, a banker in Genoa, who was on a visit to Tavistock 
House, had a great desire to see some of the low life of London ; 
and Dickens accordingly arranged with the police for a party of 
us, of which I [Edmund Yates] was one, to dine early together, 
and then “ go the rounds ” of the thieves’ quarters in White- 
chapel, the sailors’ and German sugar-bakers’ taverns in Ratcliff 
Highway, the dens of the Mint, etc. It was a curious experience, 
but the interest of it to me was greatly increased by the fact that 
I w r as in the company of the man whose genius I had worshipped 
so long and so ardently; and when he called me into tho cab, and 
we returned alone together, he chatting freely and charmingly, I 
wondered whether Fate could have in store for mo greater dis- 
tinction or delight. — Y. 

AN IMPROMPTU HORNPIPE. 

In the train, on the journey from London to Aberdeen, 15th May 
1866, the conversation turned upon the subject of dancing, and 
Mr. Dickens being an adept in the terpsichorean art, and, above 
all, in the performance of a “ sailor’s hornpipe,” it was agreed that 
he should execute this national dance. Here, however, an unforeseen 
difficulty presented itself, for — though 1 had used every endeavour 
to make my arrangements for the journey as complete as possible — 
such a thing as an orchestra had never suggested itself as indis- 
pensable to travel. But it was settled that Mr. Wills and myself 
should form the orchestra ; so we supplied a whistling accompani- 
ment?, while the dancer footed it merrily, in spite of tho frequent 
collapses of the orchestra in explosive laughter at the absurdity 
of the situation and the pretended indignation of tho dancer at tho 
indifference of the music. The sudden “ breakdown ” of the engine 
through the bursting of a pipe brought tho entertainment to a 
close, and we had to w r alk in the fields and woods a little north 
of Morpeth for nearly half an hour, until another locomotive could 
be found somewhere to take tho train on to Berwick. — D . 

“the tables turned.” 

Let me commend to the attention of my numerous nameless 
correspondents, who have attempted to soil the moral character 
of Dickens, the following little incident, related to me by himself, 
during a summer evening walk among the Kentish meadows, a few 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


139 


months before he died. I will try to tell the stcfty, if possible, as 
simply and naturally as lie told it to me. 

I chanced to be travelling some years ago,” he said, “ in a 
railroad carriage between Liverpool and London. Besides myself 
there were two ladies and a gentleman occupying the carriage. W e 
happened to bo all strangers to each other, but I noticed at once 
a clergyman was of the party. I was occupied with a ponderous 
article in the Times , when the sound of my own name drew my 
attention to the fact that a conversation was going forward among 
the three other persons in the carriage with reference to myself 
and my books. One of the ladies was perusing Bleak House , then 
lately published, and the clergyman had commenced a conversation 
with the ladies by asking what book they were reading. On being 
told the author’s name and the title of the book, he expressed 
himself greatly grieved that any lady in England should be willing 
to take up the writings of so vile a character as 0. D. Both the 
ladies showed great surprise at the low estimate the clergyman put 
upon an author whom they had ueen accustomed to read, to say 
the least, with a certain degree of pleasure. They were evidently 
much shocked at what the man said of the immoral tendency of 
these books, which they seemed never before to have suspected ; 
but when he attacked the author’s private character, and told them 
monstrous stories of his immoralities in every direction, the volume 
was shut up and consigned to the dark pockets of a travelling bag. 
I listened in wonder and astonishment, behind my newspaper, to 
stories of myself, which if they had been true would have consigned 
any man to prison for life. After my fictitious biographer had 
occupied himself for nearly an hour with the eloquent recital of 
my delinquencies and crimes, I very quietly joined in the con- 
versation. Of course 1 began by modestly doubting some state- 
ments which I had just heard, touching the author of Bleak House , 
and other unimportant works of a similar character. The man 
stared at me, and evidently considered my appearance on the con- 
versational stage an intrusion and an impertinence. ‘ You seem 
to speak,’ I said, ‘ from personal knowledge of Mr. Dickens. Are 
you acquainted with him ? ’ He rather evaded the question, but, 
following him up closely, I compelled him to say he had been talk- 
ing, not from his own knowledge of the author in question ; but 
he said he knew' for a certainty that every statement he had made 
was a true one. I then became more earnest in my inquiries for 
proofs, which he arrogantly declined giving. The ladies sat by 
in silence, listening to what was going forward. An author they 
had been accustomed to read for amusement had been traduced for 
the first time in their hearing, and they were waiting to learn what 
I had to say in refutation of the clergyman’s charges. I was taking 
up his vile stories, one by one, and stamping them as false in every 
particular, when the man grew furious, and asked me if I knew 
Dickens personally. I replied, ‘ Perfectly well ; no man knows 
him better than I do ; and all your stories about him from 
beginning to end, to these ladies, are unmitigated lies.* The man 



140 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

became livid with rage, and asked for my card. ‘ You shall have 
it,’ I said, and, coolly taking out one, I presented it to him without 
bowing. We w r ere just then nearing the station in London, so 
that I was spared a longer interview with my truthful companion ; 
but, if I were to live a hundred years, I should not forget the abject 
condition into which the narrator of my crimes was instantly 
plunged. His face turned white as his cravat, and his lips refused 
to utter w T ords. He seemed like a wilted vegetable, and as if his 
legs belonged to somebody else. The ladies became aware of the 
situation at once, and bidding them ‘ good-day,’ I stepped smil- 
ingly out of the carriage. Before I could get away from the station 
the man had mustered up sufficient strength to follow me, and his 
apologies were so nauseous and craven, that I pitied him from 
my soul. I left him with this caution, ‘ Before you make charges 
against the character of any man again, about whom you know 
nothing, and of whose works you are utterly ignorant, study to 
be a seeker after Truth, and avoid Lying as you would eternal 
perdition ! ’ ” — F 1. 

STAPLEniJRST RAILWAY ACCIDENT. 

It was the end of May I860, when he indulged in a short holiday 
trip into France, and on his way home a few days later (June 9th) 
a frightful accident overtook the train by which he was travelling, 
at Staplehurst (a few miles south of Maidstone), from the effects 
of which his nerves never wholly recovered. The train ran off the 
rails, and Dickens was in the only carriage that did not go over 
into the adjoining stream, being caught upon the turn by a portion 
of the ruined bridge, where it hung in an apparently impossible 
manner. Happily, the novelist was one of the few passengers who 
escaped injury, and with praiseworthy energy he assisted in the 
terrible work of getting out the dying and the dead ; for valuable 
help thus rendered the directors of the company sent him a resolu- 
tion of thanks. — K 1. 

After the accident Mr. Dickens never travelled, so he said, with- 
out experiencing a nervous dread, to counteract which in some 
degree he carried in his travelling bag a brandy flask, from which 
it was his invariable habit, one hour after leaving his starting-point, 
when travelling by express train, to take a draught to nerve himself 
against any ordeal he might have to go through during the rest of 
the journey. — D. 

The accident has naturally impressed itself very clearly upon his 
daughter’s memory. She speaks of the irresistible feeling of intense 
dread from which Dickens was afterwards apt to suffer whenever 
fie found himself in any kind of conveyance. “ One occasion,” she 
says, “ I specially recall ; while we were on our way from London 
to our little country station Higham, where the carriage was to 
meet us, my father suddenly clutched the arms of the railway 
carriage seat, while his face grew ashy pale, and great drops of 
perspiration stood upon his forehead, ana though he tried hard to 



ON HIS TRAVELS. 


141 


master the dread, it was so strong that he had to leave the train at 
the next station. The accident had left its impression upon the 
memory, and it was destined never to be effaced. The hours spent 
upon railroads were thereafter hours of pain to him. I realised this 
often when travelling with him, and no amount of assurance could 
dispel the feeling.” — Dickens’s daughter, interviewed in the Young 
Woman , December 1894. 

He died on the anniversary of the dreadful Staplehurst railway 
accident, and the shock his nerves received on that occasion it is 
believed he never entirely got over. The friends in the habit of 
meeting Mr. Dickens privately recall now the energy with which he 
depicted that dreadful scene, and how, as the climax of his story 
came, and its dread interest grew, he would rise from the table, 
and literally act the parts of the various sufferers to whom he lent 
a helping hand. One of the first surgeons of the day, who was 
present soon after the Staplehurst occurrence, remarked that “ the 
worst of these railway accidents was the difficulty of determining 
the period at which the system comd be said to have survived the 
shock, and that instances were on record of two or three years 
having gone by before the sufferer knew that he was seriously hurt ! ” 
— ■// 4. 



OX THE CONTINENT 


IN ITALY. 

It was not until I obtained a letter composed in flowery Italian, 
falsely representing me to be a distinguished American, that I was 
finally able to pass through the iron-bound lodge- way into the gardens 
of the Palazzo Peschiere, or Palace of the Fishponds. I had not 
found the place easily. None of the Genoese that I had interrogated 
could tell me where it was that Charles Dickens had lived, or that 
he had ever lived at all in Genoa ; and yet it was here in the 
Palazzo Peschiere that he had stayed for a whole twelvemonth and 
wrote his Chimes and Old Curiosity Shop and made many notes. 

It was a back garden which I first got into, with an abundance 
of forlorn grass and weeds and straggling trees. But as I followed 
the path that led around at the side of the house I was unexpectedly 
confronted by a scene that arrested my steps and filled me with 
wonder. The sky was as blue as turquoise, with an edging close 
down on the horizon as delicate as the blue of a robin's egg. 
This exquisite silken canopy covered a vast amphitheatre of 
brown hills patched by blocks of buildings in white and pink that 
faced the semicircle in regular parapets. Then as 1 turned mv 
eyes to the small things of the foreground I saw the old fountain 
with the urchin and the fish, where Dickens had stood on many 
mornings watching the birds fluttering at their bath. I went over 
to it and sat down on the edge of the basin, that now contained 
but a pool of brackish water and some matted grass. 

The years that have gone on since Martin Chuzzlcioit was conceived 
one morning in the garden of the Palazzo Peschiere have made but 
slight difference in the general aspects of Genoa as Dickens saw it, a 
“ splendid amphitheatre, terrace rising above terrace, garden above 
garden, palace above palace, height above height.” 

The Strada Nuova and the Strada Balbi, the famous streets of 
palaces, are still there, and so is the wonderful old lane, the Sestiere 
della Maddalena, where the jewellers are and the filigree shops — 
just a*s they were more than a hundred, yes, two hundred, years 
ago — “ And where they are likely to remain some time yet, ,, said my 
charmingly adaptable host of the Albergo" Bristol i, Signor Bertolini, 
who furnished me with the only human link connecting with the 
memory of the great author. 



ON THE CONTINENT. 


143 


“ I can’t say how well my father knew him personally,” said the 
Signor, “ but I remember he told me much of him, and seemed to 
know of his life here, and had read the Pickwick Papers in English. 
He used to point out to me on his walks of a Sunday in the country 
the place where Dickens lived when he came to Genoa — the Villa 
Bagnerello [or the “ Pink Jail,” as Dickens called it] at Albaro, a 
quaint old place surrounded by vine-clad terraces and on a little 
niche by the seashore. He lived there for several weeks before he 
moved to the Palazzo Peschiere.” 

Dickens had with him his wife and young family, and in spite 
of his penchant for prowling he enjoyed his domestic life with that 
heartiness which was so notably characteristic. He was forever 
inviting his friends to share his companionship — never in trouble, 
but only in happiness. His letters during his Genoa year are 
remarkable in their solicitous and patient fervour in the interests 
of others. He attended the play in Genoa on every possible occasion. 
Meanwhile he w^as arranging for a series of amateur theatricals to 
take place in London directly on h ; s return, and his mind was full 
with the project of the Daily News . Besides this he was framing 
his story. The Cricket on the Hearth . 

In all his Italian journeys Dickens never seemed to care to tarry 
anywhere so much as in Genoa. While he was still holding his 
residence there he took a little trip into Florence, Rome, Naples, 
and Venice. Of Naples he spoke with that candour he always did 
of everything he saw, and which few people dared, or do now dare. 
He said, “ It is a fine place, but nothing like so beautiful as people 
make it out to be.” He thought Venice the wonder of the world, 
but he preferred his Genoese walks to the interruption of the gon- 
dolier’s stali and premi. He was happy with his s mple fountain of 
the urchin and the fish in the gardens of the Palazzo Peschiere, or 
rambling through the open places at the foot of the Maddalena with 
his eyes boyishly set upon the windows of the little filigree shops. 
He loitered in the halls and lobbies of the famous open palaces, 
“ the walls of some of them, within, alive with masterpieces by 
Vandyke !<£ or in the doors of the neighbouring apothecary, or 
stood and watched the maccaroni seller, or else pondered over the 
psychological conditions that made so many monks out of masculine 
beings constantly in evidence and always repulsive to him. 

Of a Sunday ho would visit the w r onderful Oampo Santo. 
Toward sunset he liked to go into one of the churches and sit re- 
flectively, and then reach the garden to watch the fall of night. — 
Deshler Welch, in Harper's Monthly Magazine , August 1909. 

IN SWITZERLAND. 

In Switzerland Dickens did some of his best work. Amid the 
suggestive scenery of the Rhone valley, in Lausanne, Geneva, and 
Vevey, were written The Battle of Life, Dotnbey and Son , and parts 
of Bleak House and David Copperfidd % 

In 1846 (May) he took Rosemont Villa, Lausanne. There he 
met the Hon. Richard and Mrs. Watson of Rockingham Castle, 



144 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


England, to whom he dedicated David Copperfield , and with whom 
he was a lifelong friend and correspondent. 

Dickens wrote to his friend M. de Cerjat on 29th December 1849, 
after a visit to the Watsons, “We had a most delightful time at 
the Watsons’. . . . There was a Miss Boyle staying in the house, 
and she and I got up some scenes from the School for Scandal and 
from Nickleby with immense success.” 

AT BOULOGNE. 

Dickens spent the summer of 1853 at Boulogne, in an old chateau 
on the Rue Beaurepairc. Bleak House and Little Dorrit were partly 
written during this and the following summer in this town. Writing 
from Folkestone, the novelist told Mrs. Watson that the name first 
proposed for Little Dorrit was Nobody's Fault . 

In 1854 Charles Dickens left the chateau in Boulogne and took up 
his residence at the Villa du Camp de Droite of the same landlord, 
M. Beaucourt, and there began Hard Times . In the summer of 
1856 he returned to the Villa Moulineaux. 

He often joked about his signature and the flourish to it, and once 
to Mrs. Watson wrote : “ P.S .~ I am in such an incapable state 
that, after executing the foregoing usual flourish 1 swooned and 
remained for some time insensible.” 

He frequently referred to the beauties of Switzerland in his letters 
to the Watsons, and wrote of Lake Leman : “ It runs with a spring 
tide, that will always flow and never ebb, through my memory ; 
and nothing less than the waters of Lethe shall confuse the music 
of its running until it loses itself in that great sea, for which 
all the currents of our life are desperately bent.” — Deshler Welch, 
in Harper's Magazine , April 1906. 

The photographs accompanying the article are of Rosemont 
Villa, the Hon. Mrs. Watson, M. de Cerjat, Rockingham Castle, and a 
facsimile of the first page of a letter to Mrs. Watson. 

IN PARIS. 

“Many merry Christmases, many happy New Years, unbroken 
friendships, great accumulation of cheerful recollections, affection 
on earth, and Heaven at last for all of us.” This was Dickens’s 
Yuletide greeting, dated from Paris, 27th December 1846. He was 
for the first time really residing in the French capital. He had, of 
course, passed through Paris frequently, but the short stays at hotels 
were merely necessary breaks in the interminable journeys of sixty 
years since — brief rests after fifty hours in the diligence from 
Strasbourg, or before a still longer drive to Marseilles. But he was 
now a Parisian householder, having taken on lease those “ most 
ridiculous, extraordinary, unparalleled, and preposterous premises ” 
at 48 Rue de Courcelles, of which the present-day visitor may still 
identify the site (at No. 38) in the longer modernised street. 

It was a “ good old-fashioned winter,” that Christmas-tide of 
1846. In the bedrooms (“ exactly like opera boxes ”) of the great 





146 


DfcKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


novelist’s house the water froze in the jugs, and on his return from 
London he had found the soil snow-covered at Boulogne. The 
railway had been opened from Brussels to Paris, so that by posting 
to Amiens one could complete the journey by rail. The malle 
poste — a little mail-carrying vehicle, not to be confounded with 
the far more roomy English stage-coach — legally carried but two 
passengers, and Dickens had booked the seats for himself and his 
courier, the faithful and resourceful Louis Roche, of Avignon. 

44 It is delightful travelling for its speed,” wrote Dickens, “ that 
malle poste , and really for its comfort, too.” But on this particular 
occasion there was little speed and less comfort. The Boulogne 
postmaster told a doleful tale of a son sick in Paris, and begged 
to be allowed to squeeze in as far as Amiens. Roche shook a 
sceptical head — he had heard of those invalid relatives before — 
but the good-hearted Dickens consented to be “ dismally crushed ” 
by this “ large man in a great number of greatcoats ” for ten hours* 
until they reached the railroad. To crown all, they missed the 
midnight train, and had three hours to wait for another. Such 
were some of the delights of a Christmas trip to “ Gay Paree ” in 
the days of our grandfathers. One can hardly wonder that Dickens 
decided on arrival to 4 * take a jorum of hot rum and egg in bed,” 
and to “ cover himself up with all the blankets in the house.” 

In 1855, the date of the first International Exhibition at Paris, 
Dickens decided on “ moving the caravan ” there 44 for six months,” 
telling Wilkie Collins that 4 ‘ a good dfcal might be done for House - 
hold Words on that side of the water.” As usual at Exhibition 
times, he had 44 the most awful job to find a place.” But he finally 
secured a flat in the Avenue des Champs Elysces, a stone's throw 
above the Rond-point, in a house now pulled down and replaced by 
modern maisons de rapport. This was only a few minutes from 
the Exhibition below, and his old Rue de Courcellcs place was at no 
grqat distance. He was no longer to the average Frenchman the 
comparatively unknown author of 1846. Chuzzlcwit was running 
as a feuilleton in the Moniteur % and, like the wideawake business 
man he usually proved himself, Dickens profited by his visit to 
Paris to arrange for a French edition of his principal novels, and 
netted 44 sufficient to pay a year’s rent,” and travelling expenses 
into the bargain. He was lionised in the literary, artistic, and 
theatrical circles in which he always preferred to move. Landseer, 
Macready, Thackeray, the Brownings were all in Paris. Wilkie 
Collins paid Dickens visits, and, in fact, stayed some time. 

The French vied in doing honour to the English novelist. The 
description of his reception at Emile de Girard in’s, who dinod him 
right royally, while abjectly apologising — 44 This is a mere trifle. 
Just a little gathering to make acquaintance. Another time we 
will really dine ” — is delightful. 

Three months later, Gad’s Hill, the home of Dickens’s later life, was 
purchased, and his visits to Paris again became brief and occasional. 
Jn 1859 the Tale of Two Cities appeared (it is highly probable that 
although the idea of writing the work only occurred to him later. 



ON THE CONTI N^T. 


147 


Dickens gathered much material during his 1846 visit ; for the 
Paris of J846 was still largely the old city of the Revolution ; in 
1855 Haussmannization had already been vigorously com- 
menced). In January 1863 Dickens read his Christmas Carol 
at the British Embassy — the fine old mansion in the Faubourg 
St. llonore, where King Edward vn. stayed during the visit that 
founded the new entente cordiale. — T.P.'s Weekly, Christmas number, 
1908. 

OLD-FASHIONED E NO R A VINO S . 

The periodical organisation of modest but curiously interesting 
exhibitions of old prints and drawings illustrating life in Paris at 
some special epoch is one of the characteristics of the little known 
“ Paris Municipal Library.” The show in the summer of 1908 
dealt with the days when Dickens was “ rattled like a single pill 
over leagues of stones until, madly cracking, plunging, flourishing 
two grey tails about,” lie made his “ triumphant entry into Paris.” 
The Luffitte diligence from Calais unharnessing in the inn-yard ; 
the “ basso cour du bureau de la poste aux lettres a Paris,” where 
Forster (Dickens wrote) was to find “ une voiture qui a etc depeche 
(sic) de la Rue de Courcellcs quarante-huit ; ” the market gardens 
(now covered with seven-storey mansions) of the Plaine Monceau, 
which were but a few minutes' walk from Dickens’s “ ridiculous, 
extraordinary, unparalleled and preposterous ” residence near 
8t. Philippe du Roule ; the portrait of Frederic Lomaitre and the 
stage lions in whom the novelist delighted ; at every turn these 
old-fashioned engravings and sketches brought back the famous 
44 Three Months in Paris ” of 1846. Here was ti e entrance to 
“ La Force ” Prison, now demolished, but immortalised in the 
Tale of Two Cities ; there the old Morgue (now also a thing of the 
past), where on New Year’s Eve the old man s corpse seemed to 
Dickens “an impersonation of wintry 1846;” while Mabille and 
the Chaumiere, the aristocratic “ banker's quarter ” of the Chaussee 
d’Antin, the sturdy Auvcrgnat hewers of wood and drawers of 
water, were ail characteristics of the capital in Dickens’s day. — 
T.P.'a Weekly , July 17, 1908. 

CONTINENTAL POPULARITY. 

The Pickwick Papers is the one of Dickens’s works most popular 
on the Continent. For myself, I began a number of pleasant ac- 
quaintances over Dickens. Anyone who had a Dickens used to bring 
it out to show mo, and anyone who had read him mentioned it as a 
bond of union. An Austrian officer w as specially presented to me as 
having learned football from an Englishman in Vienna, and having a 
pronounced admiration for Nicholas NicJdeby in a German version ! 
A Frenchman claimed Mr. Pickwick as a mutual acquaintance who 
should at once put us on a certain footing of intimacy, “ I know 
your Pickwick, mademoiselle ; qu’il est drolo ! ” 

In Italy I found “ Carlo ” Dickens on a bookshelf between Gio- 



148 


DN&ENS IN ANECDOTE. 


vanni Stuart Mill and Tommaso Carlyle, and expressed my indig- 
nation at the Italianisation of the Christian names, protesting that 
we never spoke of “ Peter 4 4 Mascagni in England. We took the 
book down, it w r as David Copper field, and there, sandwiched betw^een 
pages in which familiar names appeared in a sea of strange print, 
were the same old woodcut illustrations that so many of us have 
looked at w’onderingly in our early days, and one or two of us, in 
blissful, unashamed ignorance, called 4 4 so ugly ” later on. In 
David Copper field Agnes does not appeal to the Italians particularly ; 
she is the incarnation of the fault with which the British nation in 
general is charged — she is 44 cold.” Dora is more human for them ; * 
but then, again, how r shocking that any girl should know' so little 
of household affairs, and there creeps in another charge : English 
women are not really domesticated ! 

One notices 44 la Signora ” Gamp, with 44 la mia arnica. Signora 
Harris,” with a certain misgiving, but — though a translation never 
can be quite what the original is — apparently they have lost little 
of their humour. Here again, however, Pickwick is the favourite 
of Dickens’s books. The Fat Boy, I remember, specially delighted 
one enthusiast, while the chops and tomato sauce incident simply 
confirms the fact that England is a place where dire consequences 
are apt to follow any indiscreet trifling with affections. In Italy 
there is no law under which breach of promise actions can be brought. 

Dickens and Scott are undoubtedly the English authors most 
generally read on the Continent ; as here, they form part of the 
library of the boy at school and the young man entering the univer- 
sity ; and, no doubt, are factors that unobtrusively make for a 
better international understanding. — Household Words, March 26, 
1904. 



VIII 


PERSONA L 1 CHARACTERISTICS 

PUNCTUALITY AND METHOD. 

There never existed, I think, in all the world, a more thoroughly 
tidy or methodical creature than was my father. He was tidy in 
every way — in his great, generous, and noble mind, in his handsome 
and graceful person, in his work, in keeping his writing-table drawers, 
in his large correspondence — in fact, in Ins whole life. I remember 
that my sister and I occupied a little garret room in Devonshire 
Terrace, at the very top of the house. He had taken the greatest 
pains and care to make the room as pretty and comfortable for his 
two little daughters as it could be made. He was often dragged 
up the steep staircase to this room to sec some new print or some 
new ornament which we children had put up, and he always gave us 
words of praise and approval. He encouraged us in every possible 
way to make ourselves useful, and to adorn and beautify our rooms 
with our own hands, and to be ever tidy and neat. I remember that 
the adornment of this garret was decidedly primitive, the unframed 
prints being fastened to the wall by ordinary white or black pins, 
whichever we could get. But never mind, if they were put up 
neatly and tidily they were always “ excellent,” or 11 quite slap-up,” 
as he used to say. Even in thoso early days ho made a point of 
visiting every room in the house once each morning, and if a chair 
was out of its place, or a blind not quite straight, or a crural) left 
on the floor, woe betide the offender. And then his punctuality ! 
It was almost frightful to an unpunctual mind ! This again was 
another phase of his extreme tidiness ; it was also the outcome of 
his excessive thoughtfulness and consideration for others. His 
sympathy, also, with all pain and suffering made him quite in- 
valuable in a sick-room. Quick, active, sensible, bright and cheery, 
and sympathetic to a degree, he would seize the 44 case ” at once, 
know exactly what to do, and do it. — Miss Mamie Dickens, in 
Ladies 1 Home, Journal (Philadelphia). 

SEASIDE REVERIES. 

Mrs. Eleanor Christian, who was once on terms of close intimacy 
with the great novelist, filled no less than twenty-five pages of 
Tem^ple Bar for March 1888 with 41 Recollections of Charles Dickens/’ 
She tells us that Dickens was extremely difficult for a stranger to 

H9 



150 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


understand — “ in the evening full of friendly converse and fun, in 
the morning he would pass us by with grudging recognition, as if it 
annoyed him to be obliged to mutter, ‘ How d’ye do ? ’ ” — and the 
writer confesses that she was “ horribly afraid of him sometimes.” 
In the mornings “ he was weaving his ideas, and naturally was bored 
by interruption ; and afterwards, when his face wore this abstracted 
look, I always pretended not to see him.” To watch the sea (the 
writer is here referring to Broadstairs) was his greatest delight ; 
for horn’s he would remain as if in a trance, with a face of rapt, 
immovable calm, and the far-off gaze of his marvellous eyes turned 
seaward, totally oblivious of everything around him. 

DANDYISMS. 

Was Dickens a dandy ? During one of his visits to Paris Miss 
Corkran saw him, and “ he had on a wonderful embroidered waist- 
coat, a flamboyant tie. and a gorgeous watch-chain.” I heard a 
somewhat similar story from the late Mr. Hogarth — a brother-in- 
law — whom I knew in the long-remote seventies as a fellow-sub- 
editor on the Daily Telegraph. Hogarth did not love Dickens ; 
he had ranged himself on the side of the sister who was Mrs. Dickens, 
and against the sister who was Dickens’s housekeeper and friend, 
and was fond, accordingly, of telling stories to the disadvantage of 
his illustrious relative. One of these was that Dickens once appeared 
at an evening party in his own house in a dress-coat w r ith scarlet 
silk lining. — T.P.'s Weekhjy November 21, 1902. 

dickens's beard. 

Dickens’s beard, like the Talc of T wo Cities , was probably a 
belated outcome of his long residence in Paris in 1855-6. He 
■seems to have been as much impressed by the bearded Zouaves (he 
saw them come home from the Crimea to Paris with “ strides like 
Bobadil ”) as the Londoners were by the bearded Crimean Guards- 
men, who are immortalised in the Waterloo Place bronze. He 
possibly hesitated, as most Englishmen did, at first, but finding his 
fellow-countrymen w’ere emulating the Guards in question, — for 
this set the fashion of beards and moustaches in England half a 
century ago, — ventured to follow' suit. — “ F. A. W.” (Paris), in T.P's 
Weekly , January 10, 1908. 

As I [Sir Joseph Crowe] remember him, Dickens was full of fun 
and enjoyed company vastly. His abundant hair of sable hue 
enframed a grand face, somewhat drawn and thrown into capricious 
ridges. His dress w T as florid ; a satin cravat of the deepest blue, 
relieved by embroideries, a green waistcoat with gold flowers, a 
dress coat with a velvet collar and satin facings, opulence of white 
cuff, rings in excess, made up rather a striking whole, and gave in 
the main a false impression of one whose power of analysis, whose 
memory of scenes he had witnessed and quaintnesses he had observed, 
were so great, and whoso capacity for assimilation was so prodigious 
that he was able to create without effort, out of all these elements, 
the grand originals which fill his novels. — C 6. 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


151 


POPULARITY AND THE PIN. 

Before Dickens’s last visit to America, a banquet took place in his 
honour. It was very numerously attended, the chair being filled 
by the late Lord Lytton. The night before the dinner, a party of 
friends of Dickens met and dined at Wilkie Collins’s, our object 
being to wish Dickens a quiet God-speed. The great writer was in 
great spirits. I think wo were none of us in evening dress, for 
Dickens wore one of the large cravats which had not then gone out 
of fasliion, and in that cravat was a most wonderful pin, large in 
size, strange in form, an object of inevitable attraction. Seeing 
that the jewel drew everybody’s attention, Dickens said, “ I hope 
you all like my pin ; it is uncommon, I think. It is hardly too 
much to say, I hope, that there is no such pin as this in America. 
I have invested in it for the whole and sole purpose of pleasing mv 
friends over the water, and I hope you all think I shall succeed. 
Dickens’s success was enormous, as everybody knows ; but how far 
the pin contributed to it will, perhaps, never bo known. — F 7. 

“ TIIE EMPEROll OF CHEERFULNESS.” 

How w r ell I recall the bleak winter evening in 1842 when I first 
saw the handsome, glowing face of the young man who w r as even 
then famous over half the globe ! He came bounding into the 
Tremont House, fresh from the steamer that had brought him to 
our shores, and his cheery voice rang through the hall, as he gave a 
quick glance at the new scenes opening upon him in a strange land 
on first arriving at a Transatlantic hotel. 

“ Here we are ! ” he shouted, as the lights burst upon the merry 
party just entering the house, and several gentlemen came forward 
to greet him. Ah, how happy and buoyant he w^as then ! Young, 
handsome, almost worshipped for his genius, belted round by such 
troops of friends as rarely ever man had, coming to a new country 
to make new conquests of fame and honour, — surely it was a sight 
to be remembered and never wholly forgotten. . . . You ask me 
what w'as his appearance as he ran, or rather flew, up the steps of 
the hotel, and sprang into the hall. He seemed all on lire with 
curiosity, and alive as 1 never saw' mortal before. From top to 
toe every fibre of bis body was unrestrained and alert. What 
vigour, what keenness, what freshness of spirit, possessed him l 
He seemed like the Emperor of Cheerfulness on a cruise of pleasure, 
determined to conquer a realm or two of fun every hour of his 
overflowing existence. — F 1. " 

ms UNFAILING “ GA1ETE PE CCEUR.” 

Nothing was more delightful in “ Boz ” than his unfailing gaield 
de cceur , shown by gay remarks and trifling jests. There was no 
pretence in these little quips. A most pleasing feature in him was 
his welcome of any natural little story, or supposed good thing and 
he seemed to be almost grateful and under an obligation at it being 
told him. How good-naturedly, too, he used to welcome anything 



152 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


in the shape of a jest — feeble though it might be, he making the 
best of it ! I suppose there never was a man of his high position 
so modest and unobtrusive, or that gave so cordial a welcome to 
what others would say. 

There are not many now alive who can have played billiards with 
“ Boz ” in his own house. I see him now, stooping over the table, 1 
his coat off, his large double-glasses on — which gave him rather an 
antique, “ old-mannish ” look. And yet how comparatively young 
at this time — only fifty-eight ! Since his clay middle-aged folk 
have become younger and yet younger, and a man anywhere in the 
fifties is now comparatively a juvenile. But what a neighbour to 
have ! Only fancy it, Charles Dickens ! “ Boz ” lui-meme, and 

not one of your recluse bookish men, weak-eyed and dyspeptic, 
shy, shrinking from, or else looking down upon, the community ; but 
the genial, hospitable Charles who was ever forward and responsive 
to everyone, always in evidence, eager to know — in short, as Carlyle 
said, “ the good, the noble, the high-souled, ever-friendly Dickens, 
every inch of him an honest man.” — F 2. 

A MAGICAL PRESENCE. 

Younger people who did not know Charles Dickens, who perhaps 
never saw him, can have little idea of the moving power of his 
words, his appeals, his very presence, over men. The mere thrill 
of his wonderful voice had a magic of persuasion in it. There was 
no more strenuous and commanding figure in the England of Queen 
Victoria’s reign. — Daily News, January 1, 1S9G. 

THACKERAY AND DICKENS : A CONTRAST. 

One night I was in the Adelphi Theatre, and went behind to see 
an old friend of mine in the company. He presently said to me, 
“ Did you see w r ho was in the house ? ” I said, “ Do you mean 
Thackeray ? ” He said, “ Yes. Do you know that when ho comes 
in he puts all of us out, and wo feel we can’t do anything. Now,” 
he continued, “ with Dickens it is exactly the reverse. Wo see him 
come in, and he puts us all in a good cue instantly.” Sir Edward 
Russell, in That Reminds Me. 

All the kindness of heart, geniality, generosity, appreciation of 
whatever could be appreciated in others, manly independence, 
hatred of humbug, all the leading qualities of his books were com- 
ponent parts of his nature. For one holding a position so unique 
in the w'orld he was wonderfully modest ; and while he always 
quietly and unostentatiously assert ed his own dignity, I never saw 
the smallest appearance of “ putting on airs.” His expressed 
dislike to allow his daughters to play before the Court as amateur 
actresses, his repeated refusal of the Queen’s requests that he would 
come round after an amateur performance and be presented to her, 
he being in his theatrical costume, were evidences of this self- 

1 This billiard-table was sold for the “song” of £3. 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS* 


153 


respect ; and his belief in, and assertion of, the dignity of his calling 
were just as marked. Any foothold on the literary ladder, no matter 
how low, had its interest for him. “ I do not plead as a stranger/’ 
he said at the Newspaper Press Fund ; “ I hold a brief for my 
brothers.; ” and then plunged into some delightful stories of his 
reporting days. What ho was to the world the world knows ; 
to me he was the most charming of companions, the kindest 
of friends. — Edmund Yates. Y . 

I have heard Dickens described by those who knew him as 
aggressive, imperious, and intolerant, and I can comprehend the 
accusation ; but to me his temper was always of the sweetest and 
kindest. He would, I doubt not, have been easily bored, and would 
not have scrupled to show it ; but he never ran the risk. He was 
imperious in the sense that his life was conducted on the sic volo 
sic jube.o principle, and that everything gave way before him. The 
society in which he mixed, the hours which ho kept, the opinions 
which he held, his likes and dislikes, 1 is ideas of what should or 
should not bo, were all settled by himself, not merely for himself, 
but for all those brought into connection with him, and it was never 
imagined they could be called in question. Yet he was never 
regarded as a tyrant : he had immense power of will, absolute- 
mesmeric force, as he proved beneficially more than once, and that 
he should lead and govern seemed perfectly natural to us : 

“We who had loved him so, followed him, honoured him. 
Dwelt in his mild and magnificent eye, 

Learned his great language, caught his clear accent, 

Made him our pattern to live and to die.” — Y, 

I have said that I had many opportunities of meeting Dickens ; 
but I should say that my acquaintance with him was very slight 
and superficial. I used to feel very proud when he shook hands 
with mo and remembered mv name and asked mo how I was 
getting on, or some question of that sort ; but I never could protend 
to have been ranked oven in the outermost circle of his friends. 
I w r as not merely a young man, but a totally obscure young man, 
and had nothing whatever to recommend me to Dickens's notice 
except the fact that I belonged to the staff of a daily newspaper. 
To say the truth, Dickens rather frightened me ; I felt uneasy when 
lie spoke to me, and did not quite see what business I had to be 
speaking to such a man. His manner w-as full of energy ; there 
was something physically overpowering about it, as it then seemed 
to me ; the very vehemence of his cheery good- humour rather bore 
one down. From the first lie appeared to me to bo a man with whom 
J could not venture to differ on any subject. Then again, as was 
but natural, ho w^as generally surrounded by a crowd of young men 
who sincerely worshipped him, and to whom indeed he seemed to 
represent all literature. I know how kind and friendly and en- 
couraging he was to many men as young as I was, and whose very 
first efforts in literature received his helping hand — I knew many 



154 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


such young men, and they were never tired of telling mo how kind 
he was, and how gentle, how “ quick to encourage and slow to 
disparage,” if I may adopt certain words which I think were used 
by himself when speaking of another leader of literature. But I am 
only putting down my impressions just for what they are worth, 
as the phrase goes, and indeed they are worth nothing at all except 
as impressions, and I can only say that Dickens somehow or other 
always made me feel rather afraid. 

Another man who always made me feel afraid was Thomas 
Carlyle ; but that was in quite a different w ay. . . . Tn the case 
of Carlyle I did not like to run the risk of being snubbed; in Dickens’s 
case I knew' there was no such risk — I knew that he was far too 
sw'eet and kindly in nature to snub me, but the very exuberance 
of his good-humour bore me down and kept me in my modest 
place. — Justin McCarthy. M 5. 

“THE CHIEF.” 

In his own immediate literary circle, amongst those who were on 
the most familiar terms with him, the name “Mr. Dickens,” or 
“ Mr. Charles Dickens,” or even “ Charles,” with his most intimate 
friends, was never heard. The respect felt for his genius — his 
superiority — took a more striking, although more familiar form. 
He was invariably spoken of as “the Chief ! At All the Year 
Round office, the question was never, “ Is Mr. Dickens in ? ” but 
“ Has the Chief arrived ? ” “ Is the Chief in ? ” — II 4. 

“pet” theories. 

Those who knew' Dickens intimately can often trace in his writings 
— while others cannot — allusions to little “pet” theories and 
hobbies of his. I have heard, for instance, him often dwell on the 
dreadfully tyrannical power of the law of the average, which must 
be carried out. He would mention the number of ]>ersons yearly 
killed in the London streets — some hundreds, I think — and he would 
add this original suggestion : “ Now', here w e are in November, and 
the number of such accidents is much below what it should be. So, 
is it not dreadful to think that before the last day of the year somo 
forty or fifty persons must be killed — and killed they will be ? ” — F 2. 

POWERS OF OBSERVATION. 

“ Ithuriel,” a writer in C. B. Fry's Magazine, December 1904, 
recalled the one walk he had with Dickens. ‘‘ Ithuriel ” had as a boy 
taken to classifying passers-by according to their apparent health or 
ailment, and so diagnosing their character or history. A French 
actor made an appointment with him for “ a friend of his ” who 
wished to judge his impressions of passengers. 

“ He did not say who his friend was, and when, at seven o'clock 
on the following Saturday night, wo met outside The Cock in Fleet 
Street, I was not a little staggered to recognise my critic. But I 
was a mere boy, and that eminent critic was always close to boy- 




156 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


hood, and very soon we were quite happy together. And that 
night I had a lesson in observation. I found, before half an hour 
had gone by, that I was a mere amateur and tyro ; I seemed to see 
and look for one thing only, while that other one appeared to gather 
everything into the orbit of his examining vision. Queer names, 
the effects of light and shadow, the gait of the passers-by, the 
stooped shoulders of one used- to carry heavy burdens, the in- 
equality of particular walks of particular people, the sudden hush 
of a crowded thoroughfare, the strange area of silence that seems 
to intervene between a great river and the changing population 
on its banks, the influences of sounds as one stood still (a very 
remarkable experience it is at night) on what we supposed we must 
call the imagination. The boy had been prepared — he still thinks 
in middle life — for a more tricksy and less exhaustive form of 
observation — he thinks so. He was sure he was more than sur- 
prised, perhaps a little awed, by the swift inlook into the heart of 
things that seemed to foreshorten all idle and curious groping, and 
make the immediate paraphrase of sounds and visible tilings a kind 
of infallible intuition. I ventured to say that in silent places one 
could sometimes hear the migrating birds as they sought the south, 
miles up in the air. I had been told so by a great bird-lover and 
bird-knower, but though we listened hard, they could not bo heard 
that night. Since, I have often heard them, but we could not hear 
them then.” 

A LOVER OF CRICKET. 

Mr. Dickens was a great lover of cricket, and in the summer of 
1866 he would often hurry back to Ga^Ts Hill after a visit to town, 
in order to be present at a cricket match in the field at the back 
of the house— -between bis own Higham Club and some other club 
in the neighbourhood. — D. 

AN ABSTEMIOUS “ BIBBER.” 

How he enjoyed all the attendant paraphernalia of Christmas, 
particularly the jovial drinks which attend the season ! He would 
have ha<l wassail even, had it not been an unacceptable, rather 
sickly compound. To hear him talk of the steaming bowl of punch, 
with apples “ bobbing about ” merrily, of the Garrick matchless 
gin-punch particularly, and the anticipating zest and relish with 
which he compounded, these mixtures, one would fancy him quaffing 
many a tumbler. But alas ! how often had it been noted, to tho 
general surprise, that his whole enjoyment was in the romantic 
association ! Never was there a more abstemious bibber. —F 2. 

When we arrived in Liverpool from Manchester [April 1866], an 
excellent supper awaited us — a pleasant finish to a day of hard work 
and excitement. Mr. Dickens brewed a bowl of punch, an accom- 
plishment in which he stood pre-eminent, as in ail matters to which 
he put his hand. And here, as in all probability tho recurring 
mention of such luxuries as these may lead to a misapprehension 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


157 


as to Mr. Dickens’s character as an epicure, I must take the oppor- 
unity of stating that, although he so frequently both wrote and 
talked about eating and drinking, I have seldom met a man who 
partook less freely of the kindly fare placed before him. In this 
observation I am not singular, as the following quotation from a 
letter by a common friend, Mr. James T. Fields, of Boston, U.S.A., 
will testify : 

“ He liked to dilate in imagination over the brewing of a bowl of 
punch, but i always noticed that when the punch was ready he 
drank less of it than anyone who might be present. It was the 
sentiment of the thing, and not the thing itself, that engaged his 
attention.” 

To the consideration of those who, from want of appreciation of a 
good man’s heart, deprecate the frequent allusions in his writings 
of the things of this life, I would seriously and earnestly commend 
this quotatioh. — D. 

TEETOTALISM IN’ FAIRYLAND. 

In one of his temperance speeches he (George Cruikshank) said : 

“ I am ashamed to say that for many years I went on following 
the ordinary custom of drinking, till I fell into pecuniary difficulties. 
I had some money at a banker’s ; he fell into difficulties, took to 
drinking brandy-and-water, arid ended by blowing out liis brains. 
I lost my money, and in my distress applied to friends who aided 
me for a time, but they themselves fell into difficulties, and I was 
forced to extricate myself by the most extraordinary exertions. 
In this strait I thought, The best thing I can do is to take to water : 
but still I went on for some time before I quite weaned myself from 
my own drinking habits. I went to take luncheon with my friend 
Dickens (who, I am sorry to say, is not a teetotaller) ; he asked 
me to take wine, but I told him I had taken to water, for, in my 
opinion, a man had better take a glass of prussic acid than fall into 
the other habit of taking brandy-and-water ; and I am happy to 
say that Charles Dickens quite agreed with me, that a man had 
l >ctter wipe himself out at once, than extinguish himself by degrees 
by the soul-degrading and body-destroying enemy.” — J 4. 

[Cruikshank’s] Fairy Library had been a failure. Dickens [in 
Household Words], among others, had protested against teetotalism 
being introduced into fairyland ; and had two years previously 
even ridiculed what was called Cruikshank’s temperance fanaticism, 
in a paper called “ Whole Hogs.” . . . Cuthbert Bede, in “A Remi- 
niscence of Cruikshank ” in Notes and Queries , remarks: “It was 
very evident from that article, 4 Frauds on the Fairies,’ and also 
from a previous one from the same pen, called 4 Whole Hogs,’ that 
Dickens considered Cruikshank to be occasionally given over to 
the culture of crotchets, and to the furious riding of favourite 
hobbies.” — J 4. 

Dickens goes on to point out what would become of our great books 
if such a precedent [this refers to the alteration in the text of a 



158 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


fairy story by Cruikshank to introduce the idea of temperance] 
were to be followed. “ Imagine a total abstinence edition of 
Robinson Crusoe , with the rum left out. Imagine a peace edition, 
with the gunpowder left out, and the rum left in. Imagine a 
vegetarian edition, with the goat’s flesh left out. Imagine a Ken- 
tucky edition, to introduce a dogging of that ’tarnal old nigger 
Friday, twice a week. Imagine an Aborigines Protection Society 
edition, to deny the cannibalism and make Robinson embrace the 
amiable savages whenever they landed. Robinson Crusoe would 
be ‘ edited 5 out of his island in a hundred years, and the island 
would be swallowed up in the editorial ocean.” Then follows a 
most humorous story of “ Cinderella,” edited by a stump orator 
on Temperance, Ocean Penny Postage, Sanitary Science ; ending 
with this pleasant moral : “ Frauds on the Fairies once permitted, 
We see little reason why they may not come to this, and great reason 
why they may. The Vicar of Wakefield was wisest when he was 
tired of being always wise. The world is too much with us, early 
and late.” 

Poor George Cruikshank dropped his pencil, and Cuthl>ert Bede 
has told us how he found the artist, on an October day in 1853, 
still smarting from the effects of Dickens’s article. Cruikshank, 
however, was not the man to feel a blow and sit down under it. — 

J 4. 

On our last night at Glasgow [20th July 1848], after a climax 
of successful performances at the theatre, — the pieces being Used Up, 
Love , Law, and Physic, and Two o'clock in the Morning, — we had 
a champagne supper in honour of its being the Amateur Company’s 
last assemblage together. Charles Dickens, observing that I took no 
wine, said, “ Do as I do : have a little champagne put into ypur^ 
glass and fill it up with water ; you'll find it a refreshing draught# 
I tell you this as a useful secret for keeping cool on such festive 
occasions, and speak to you as man to man.” He was in wildest 
spirits at the brilliant reception and uproarious enthusiasm of the 
audience that evening, and said in his madcap mood, “ Blow 
Domestic Hearth ! I should like to be going on all over the king- 
dom, with Mark Lemon, Mrs. Cowden-Clarke, and John (his man- 
servant), and acting everywhere. There’s nothing in the world 
equal to seeing the house rise at you, one sea of delighted faces, one 
hurrah of applause ! ” — Mrs. Cowden-Clarke. C 1. 

“ A GRIEVOUS MISTAKE.” 

The discussions, mostly by his friends and intimates, of the 
causes of Charles Dickens’s comparatively early death at the age 
of fifty-eight, have led to little more than one opinion— that it was 
overwork, overwork, and always overwork, mental and physical, 
says' John Hollingshead in the Pall Mall Gazette. He remarks 
that in writing his strongest characters Charles Dickens always 
acted them. ** These spirits of his own conceptions came back 
to him in the evening and in the dead of night ; they often moved 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


159 


him to rise and walk in his long tramp’s tramp of twenty-seven 
miles, from Tavistock Square to Gad’s Hill.” No doubt there is 
much truth in this, but the principal reason that Charles Dickens 
died at the time he did was that he was in the habit of using vast 
amounts of alcoholic stimulants to keep himself up. When lectur- 
ing i ti this country he continued to drink the amounts that he 
drank when in England, regardless of the different effects of the 
climates of the two countries upon persons who use alcoholic liquors. 
Ho appeared to believe it was necessary to take a certain amount 
with his meals, and at other times, to maintain him. It was a 
grievous mistake. We would not be understood as saying that he 
was a drunkard in the ordinary acceptation of the term. If he 
had become drunk two or three times a month, and had not touched 
liquor the rest of the time, he might have lived longer than he did, 
though the moral consequences would have been worse. Whoever 
tries to keep himself up regularly by any stimulant, in the absence 
of which he would temporarily collapse, is nothing more than a 
moral and physical speculator ; — is like : concern that declares a 
dividend out of the principal, or a family that keeps up appear- 
ances of wealth by pawning their belongings and spending the 
proceeds. — Christian Advocate (New York), January 29, • 1903. 

II [S FAVOURITE BOOKS. 

There w r ere certain books of which Dickens liked to talk during 
his walks. Among his especial favourites were the writings of 
Cobbett, De Quincey, the Lectures on Moral Philosophy by Sydney 
Smith, and Carlyle’s French Revolution . Of this latter Dickens 
said it was the book of all others w hich he read perpeiually, and 
of which he never tired. There were certain books particularly 
l^oful to him, and of which he never spoke except in terms of most 
ridiculous raillery. Air. Barlow, in Sand ford and Merton , he said 
was the favourite enemy of his boyhood and his first experience of 
a bore. He had ail almost supernatural hatred for Barlow', “ be- 
cause he was so very instructive , and alw'ays hinting doubts with 
regard to the veracity of Svwad the Sailor , and had no belief what- 
ever in the 4 Wonderful Lamp,’ or 4 The Enchanted Horse.’ ” He 
gloried in many of Hood’s poems, especially in that biting 4 Ode 
to Rae Wilson.’ . . . One of his favourite books was Pepys’s Diary. 
• tt • * Speaking one day of Gray, the author of the Elegy , he said* 
“ No poet ever came walking down to }>osterity with so small a 
book under his arm.” He preferred Smollett to Fielding, putting 
Peregrine Pickle above Tom Jonen. Of the best novels by his con- 
temporaries he always spoke with warm commendation, and 
Griffith Gaunt he thought a production of very high merit. — F 1. 

AT THE ZOO. 

What a treat it was to go with him to the Zoological Gardens* 
a place he greatly delighted in at all times ! He knew the zoological 
address of every animal, bird, and fish of any distinction, and he 



160 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


could, without the slightest hesitation, on entering the grounds, 
proceed straightway to the celebrities of claw or foot or tin. The 
delight he took in the hippopotamus family was most exhilarating. 
He entered familiarly into conversation with the huge, unwieldy 
creatures, and they seemed to understand him. Indeed, he spoke 
to all the unpliilologieal inhabitants with a directness and tact Vhich 
went home to them at once. He chaffed with the monkeys, coaxed 
the tigers, and bamboozled the snakes, with a dexterity unapproach- 
able. All the keepers knew him, he was such a loyal visitor, and 
I noticed they came up to him in a friendly way, with the feeling 
that they had a sympathetic listener always in Charles Dickens. 
—FI. 

DICKENS AND THACKERAY *. MORE CONTRASTS. 

I remember George Henry Lewes telling me the difference between 
Thackeray and Dickens in the way of service to a friend. Dickens, 
he said, would not give you a farthing of money, but he would take 
no end of trouble for you. He would spend a whole day, for in- 
stance, in looking for the most suitable lodgings for you, and would 
spare himself neither time nor fatigue. Thackeray would take 
two hours^ grumbling indecision and hesitation in writing a two-line 
testimonial ; but he would put his hand into his pocket and give 
you a handful of gold and bank-notes, if you wanted them. I 
know of neither characteristic personally ; but I repeat the illus- 
tration as Mr. Lewes gave it. 

Talking of Dickens and Thackeray, it is curious how continually 
they are put in opposition to each other. Each stood at the head 
of a distinct school of thought, representing different aspects of 
human life, and each had his followers and adherents, for the most 
part arrayed in self-made hostile linos, with a very small percentage 
of that tertium quid — those impartial critics who could admire both 
with equal favour. This kind of antagonism is very common. . . . 
But it sprang in each instance from the admirers, not the prin- 
cipals ; and in the ease of Thackeray and Dickens it was emphatic- 
ally made for, and not by, them. 

Both these men illustrated the truth which so few see, or acknow- 
ledge when even they do see it, of that divorcement of intellect 
and character which leads to what men are pleased to call incon- 
sistencies. Thackeray, who saw the faults and frailties of human 
nature so clearly, was the gentlest-hearted, most generous, most 
loving of men. Dickens, whose whole mind went to almost morbid 
tenderness and sympathy, was infinitely less plastic, less self -giving, 
less personally sympathetic. Energetic to restlessness, lie spared 
himself no trouble, as has been said, but he was a keen man of busi- 
ness and a hard bargainer, and his will was as resolute as his pride 
was indomitable. In the latter years of his life no one could move 
him ; and his nearest and dearest friends were as unwilling to face 
as they were unable to deflect the passionate pride which suffered 
neither counsel nor rebuke. Yet he was as staunch and loyal a 
friend as ever lived ; and, thanks to that strain of inflexibility, he 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS, 


161 


never knew a shadow of turning — never blew hot and cold in a 
breath. At the same time, he never forgave when he thought he 
had been slighted. 

Dickens had no eye for beauty per se> He could love a com- 
paratively plain woman — and did ; but Thackeray’s fancy went out 
to loveliness ; and cleverness alone, without beauty — which ruled 
Dickens — would never have stirred his passions. Both men could, 
and did, love deeply, passionately, madly, and the secret history 
of their lives has yet to be written. It never will be written 
now, and it is best that it should not be. — Mrs. Lynn Linton, on 
“ Landor, Dickens, Thackeray,” in The Bookman (New York), vol. iii. 

DICKENS AND “ THE UPPER TEN.” 

He was too proud and self-respecting for flunkeyism. He de- 
clined to be lionised, and stuck to his own order ; wherein he showed 
his wisdom, and wherefor he lias earned the gratitude of all self- 
respecting litterateurs and artists not born in the purple. He knew 
that in a country like ours, where the old feudal feeling has sunk so 
deep, and the division of classes has been so marked and is still 
so real — he knew that the biggest lion of the class “ not born ” is 
never received as an equal by the aristocracy. He is Samson 
invited to make sport for the Philistines, but he is not one of them- 
selves, and never will be considered one of themselves. Hence 
Charles Dickens, even in the zenith of his fame, was. never to be 
seen at the houses of the great ; and with the exception of Lord 
Lansdowne and the Baroness Burdctt-Coutts, ho owned no intimate 
friendships among the Upper Ten. — Ibid . 

He appears to have been introduced to the mistress of Holland 
House by Serjeant Talfourd in 1838, the year of his expedition to 
Yorkshire with Hablot K. Browne to collect the information repro- 
duced in Nicholas Nicldeby. He hoped to mako his appearance 
under Talfourd's wing, and in a letter to his friend expressed alarm 
at the prospect of a solitary visit. Hampered by the diffidence 
natural to one making his first advances towards polite society, 
Dickens appears to have fallen an easy victim. Lady Holland 
forced him to disclose the plot of Nicholas Nicldeby, and when he 
was about to visit America she remonstrated thus, “ Why cannot 
you go down to Bristol, and see some of the third and fourth class 
people, and they'll do just as well.” — Charles Lloyd Sanders, in The 
Holland House Circle . 

FREEDOM FROM JEALOUSY. 

Yet Charles Dickens had warm sympathies too, and his true 
friends never found him wanting. To those whom he affected 
ho was princely in his helpfulness — always remembering that this 
helpfulness took other forms than that of pecuniary aid. To Wilkie 
Collins be was as a literary mentor to a younger Telemachus, and 
he certainly counted for much in Wilkie's future success as a littha - 
teur. I was told by one who knew, that he took unheard-of pains 
6 



162 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


with his younger friend’s first productions, and went over them 
line by line, correcting, deleting, adding to, as carefully as a con- 
scientious schoolmaster dealing with the first essay of a promising 
scholar. In his Rambles beyond Railways , the hand of the master 
was ubiquitous and omnipotent, and so in the stories published in 
Household Words and All the Year Round. For Dickens was abso- 
lutely free from the petty vice of jealousy. He was too self-respect- 
ing and withal too conscious of his own powers to be afflicted by 
the success of others. — Mrs. Lynn Linton, in “ Landor, Dickens, 
Thackeray,” in The Bookman (New York), vol. iii. 

HIS TASTE IN HOME DECORATION. 

His taste was all for bright colours and pleasant suggestions. Ho 
liked flower patterns and lively tints, and the greenery-yallery 
school would have found no disciple in him. He was always fidgety 
about furniture, and did not stay even one night in a hotel without 
rearranging the chairs and tables of the sitting-room, and turning the 
bed — I think — north and south. He maintained that lie could not 
sleep with it in any other position ; and he backed up his objections 
with arguments about the earth currents and positive or negative 
electricity. It may have been a mere fantasy, but it was real enough 
to him ; and having once got the idea into his mind, it is very sure 
that he could not have slept with his head to the east and his feet 
to the west, or in any other direction than the one he had decided 
on as the best. Nervous and arbitrary, he was of the kind to whom 
whims are laws, and self-control in contrary circumstances was 
simply an impossibility. — Ibid. 

VEXED ! 

Dickens’s ebullition of temper, which cost his heirs and assigns 
so dearly, took place in the library [of Mr. Houghton, the Boston 
publisher]. Mr. Houghton said to him that, as lie could not pre- 
vent other houses republishing Dickens’s works without payment, 
since there was no copyright, he could not afford to pay him more 
than a five per cent, royalty, but ho was prepared to pay that. 
It was at a time when the American greenback had been terribly 
depreciated by the war. Dickens completely lost his temper, and 
said, “ Well, if you won’t give me more than that, I don’t want any 
of your dirty money. It is not worth anything, anyhow.” When 
Mr. Houghton told me this story he added that, just for his own 
satisfaction, he had always kept an account of the money that would 
have been paid to Dickens and his heirs, and it amounted to a good 
many thousand pounds. — Douglas Sladen, in the Leisure Hour , 
December 1900. 

LOVE OF THE “ OLD SONGS.” 

Dickens was fond of songs, and could troll them well. He knew 
all the familiar ones which people of his day were chanting — also all 
the old lilts, and knew how to jest on these time-worn favourites. 
I have constantly beard him allude to them in his airy, pleasant 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


163 


fashion, and burlesque them. As in the case of “ When the wind 
blows,” at the opening of The Miller and His Men , that venerable 
melodrama, More Sacks to the Mill. (When it was revived he 
brought it me to see it.) Naturally, therefore, we find all his stories 
full of lively allusions to old songs. Pie took a genuine delight in 
Moore’s melodies, and as a matter of course we find constant allusions 
to these lyrics . — F 2. 

AS A COUNSELLOR. 

Pie (Dickens) was himself an excellent man of business, though 
in early life he made great pecuniary mistakes by an impatience 
of disposition, a desire to get things settled and done with, w r hieh is 
shared by many men of letters to their great loss ; he was pains- 
taking, accurate, and punctual to a fault ; and the trouble he took 
about other people's affairs, especially in his own calling, is almost 
incredible. Young men of letters are especially fortunate as 
regards the sympathy and assistance the^ receive from members of 
other professions. Almost all of us have our Dr. Goodenough. 
The lawyers, too, are always ready with their advice. . . . The 
chiefs of our own calling are always ready to give a helping hand to 
their juniors ; but Dickens looked upon it as an imperative duty 
so to do. Many a time have young would-be contributors called 
upon me, and produced from their breast-pockets as passport to my 
attention a letter of rejection, torn and frayed, and bearing tokens 
of having been read a hundred times, from the master. “ He 
wrote mo this letter himself,” they would say, as though there were 
but one “ He ” in the world. It was generally a prettv long one, 
though written at a time when minutes were guineas to him, full of 
the soundest advice and tenderest sympathy. There was always 
encouragement in them (for of course these were not hopeless cases), 
and often — whenever, in fact, there seemed need for other help 
besides counsel — some allusion, couched in the most delicate terms 
to “ the enclosed.” Dickens not only loved his calling, but had 
a respect for it, and did more than any man to make it respected. — 
P 4. 

In Tinsley's Random Recollections of an Old Publisher , Dickens’s 
encouragement of budding authors is not spoken of in so enthusi- 
astic a manner. Tinsley says : 

“More than once in these pages I have mentioned that I tKink 
Charles Dickens was seldom plain - spoken enough with young 
authors, and was very apt to pass them on to publishers with notions 
in their heads that got there from the great author seeming to say, 
“ ‘ Go on, and you will prosper.’ ” 

HIS GENEROSITY. 

Prior to the rupture of the tender relations between young 
Mr. Macrone and Miss Sophia Sala [aunt to G. A. S.] — this was, 
I think, in 1836 — he, finding that the capital of the publishing 
firm was urgently in need of expansion, borrowed from Miss Sala 



164 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the sum of £500 ; and I believe that a considerable portion of this 
money went to pay Charles Dickens for the copyright of Sketches 
by Boz. With the subsequent dealings between Dickens and 
Macrone I have nothing to do. They are fully set forth in Mr. 
Forster's Life ; I am only concerned with the bond of £500. Macrone 
died in poverty, and his creditors received nothing ; he left, moreover, 
a wife and young children, and Dickens, generous as he always 
was, edited for tho benefit of the family of the publisher, who had 
certainly not used him very well, two volumes of tales and essays 
which appeared in 1841 under the title of the Pic-Nic Papers. The 
work enabled him to put something like £300 into the hands of the 
widow Macrone ; but I scarcely think that the sale was very large 
of the Pic-Nic Papers , which had been got up on the lines of the 
Litre des Cent-et-un, which consisted of the voluntary contributions 
of a number of celebrated French men of letters, who banded 
themselves together to assist the widow of a well-known Parisian 
publisher named Ladvocat . — S 2. 

DOING GOOD BY STEALTH. 

Charles Kent once told me a pretty story of his great friend, 
which he told well. He met him at the comer of some street, and 
began to relate to him what he knew would please him, how a 
certain fanatical Pickwickian — whose name, I think, was Amcott — 
used to have the book steadily read to him every night until com* 
pie ted, and then ordered it to be begun again all afresh. It took 
about three months to get through : so there w r ere four readings 
in the year. “ Boz ” was chuckling over his admirer’s enthusiasm, 
when a miserable unfortunate, with the usual baby, drew near, 
and begged of Kent, who, being at the critical part of his story, 
motioned her away. And “ Boz ” appeared also to deprecate the 
interruption. Turning for a moment from “ Boz’s ” expressive 
face, who was still relishing the jest, adding a comic touch of his 
own, he saw his hand gliding behind his back, and a half-crown 
drop softly in the woman’s hand ! — F 2. 

The late Sheridan Knowles, in a letter to a friend, gave an instance 
of his generosity : “ Poor Haydn, the author of the Dictionary of 
Dates, and the Book of Dignities (I believe I am right in the titles), 
wafis working, to my knowledge, under the pressure of extreme destitu- 
tion, aggravated by wretchedly bad health, and a heart slowly 
breaking through efforts indefatigable, but vain, to support in 
comfort a wife and a young family. I could not afford him at the 
moment any material relief, and I wrote to Charles Dickens, stating 
bis miserable case. My letter w'as no sooner received than it was 
answered — and how ? By a visit to his suffering brother, and not 
of condolence only, but of assistance — rescue ! Charles Dickens 
offered his purse to poor Haydn, and subsequently brought tho case 
before the Literary Society, and so appealingly as to produce an 
immediate supply of £60. I need not say another word. I need 
not remark that such benevolence is not likely to occur solitarily. 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


165 


The fact I communicate I learned from poor Haydn himself . Dickens 
never breathed a word to me about it.” 

The ensuing month (November 1855) an appeal was made on 
behalf of Johnson’s god-daughter, signed by nineteen eminent 
literary men, including Dickens, Hallamf Disraeli, Carlyle, Thack- 
eray, Milman, and Macaulay. A large sum of money was raised, 
but the recipient did not live many years to enjoy the annuity 
secured for her. 

Among distinguished visitors to America who remembered and 
greeted Mrs. Clem, Edgar Allan Poe’s venerable mother-in-law, 
was Charles Dickens, and he generously entreated her acceptance 
of one hundred and fifty dollars, accompanying the gift with the 
assurance of his sympathy. — P 6. 

During his stay [second visit to America] he was besieged to 
such an extent with applications for his autograph, that he was 
obliged to have printed a form in reply : “To comply with your 
modest request would not be reasonably possible.” To envelope, 
direct, and post these replies, the services of three secretaries were 
required. Applications of another kind, however, were personally 
attended to. Thus it was told there, that a lady of Charleston, 
a great admirer of Mr. Dickens's writings, but unfortunately 
paralysed in her limbs from an accident, so that she could not walk, 
wrote to ask if the doors of the “ Temple ” could be opened to her 
earlier than the usual hour, that she might be lifted into the hall 
unobserved. Mr. Dickens immediately acknowledged the note, 
gave the requisite order for the lady’s accommodation, and claimed 
the honour of presenting her, besides, with complimen.ary tickets 
of admission. — // 4. 

When acting in Edinburgh, for Leigh Hunt’s benefit, with Charles 
Dickens and his brilliant dramatis persona*, news came to him 
[George Cruikshank] that a country editor, with a large family, 
whom he had often previously helped, was on the edge of ruin for 
want of fifty pounds. 

“ I must, send it to the poor fellow,” lie said to Dickens, “ immedi- 
ately.” 

“ That would be very kind to him,” answered Dickens, “ but 
very unkind to yourself. By the bye, have you got fifty pounds in 
your pocket ? ” 

“ Oh dear, no,” was Cruikshank’s reply, “ but I want you to lend 
me the money to send to him — now — at oneo.” 

Dickens's rejoinder was not resort to his cheque-book, but the 
remark that he knew George’s incapable friend would be as badly 
off as ever after the execution had been paid out of his house, even 
if the money was sent. 

“ Then,” he added, “ you would deny yourself all sorts of things 
and bo miserable till you paid mo back. That I can’t stand, so I 
must decline .” — J 4. 

One of these many kindnesses [to tramps, etc.], came to the public 
ear during the last summer of his life. He was dressing in his own 



166 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


bedroom in the morning, when he saw two Savoyards and two bears 
come up to the Falstaff Inn opposite. While he was watching the 
odd company, two English bullies joined the little party and in- 
sisted upon taking the muzzles off the bears in order to have a dance 
with them. “ At once,” said Dickens, “ I saw there would be 
trouble, and I watched the scene with the greatest anxiety. In a 
moment I saw how things were going, and without delay I found 
myself outside the gate. I called the gardener on the way, but he 
managed to hold himself at a safe distance behind the fence. I put 
the Savoyards instantly in a secure position, asked the bullies what 
they were at, forced them to muzzle the bears again, under threats 
of sending for the police, and ended the whole affair in so short a 
time that I was not missed from the house. Unfortunately, while 
I w r as covered with dust and blood, for the bears had already 
attacked one of the men when I arrived, I heard a carriage roll by. 
I thought nothing of it at the time, but the report in the foreign 
journals which startled and shocked my friends so much came 
probably from the occupants of that vehicle. Unhappily, in my 
desire to save the men, I entirely forgot the dogs, and ordered the 
bears to be carried into the stable-yard until the scuffle should be 
over, w f hen a tremendous tumult arose between the bears and the 
dogs. Fortunately we were able to separate them without injury, 
and the "whole was so soon over that it was hard to make the family 
believe, when I came into breakfast, that anything of the kind 
had gone forward .” — F 1. 

I remember Leigh Hunt telling me that once when he and Dickens 
were coming away from a party on a very rainy night, a cab not 
being readily procurable to convey Leigh Hunt home, Charles 
Dickens had made him get inside the fly he had in waiting for him- 
self and the ladies who were with him, taking his own seat outside ; 
upon which Leigh Hunt put his head out to protest, saying, “If 
you don’t mind, Dickens, you’ll ‘ become a darn'd, damp , moist , un- 
pleasant body ! ' ” which was responded to by a blithe, clear laugh 
that rang out right pleasantly in the dark wet night . — C 1. 

One of the many gracious deeds performed by Charles Dickens 
relates to a thoughtful and graceful act on his part [in 1844] in aiding 
a poor carpenter named John Overs, who was dying of consumption. 
During his leisure moments this intelligent, but unfortunate, man 
had composed several poems and verses, hoping by their publication 
to leave some small provision for wife and children. Dickens’s 
friend, Dr. Elliotson, who had shown extraordinary kindness to the 
sick man, informed the novelist that Overs could not return to his 
old work, whereupon he took an especial interest in the case, 
and was induced to assist him in publishing several of his verses. 
When, at last, Overs became too ill for his ordinary occupation, ho 
further aided him in his literary labours by putting a few books 
in his way, giving him an occasional word of advice, and reading 
his compositions with him whenever opportunity offered. It was 
presently decided to issue, in volume form, a selection from Overs’ 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


167 


stories, and Dickens not only promised to edit them, but to write 
an introduction as well— a promise which he fulfilled shortly before 
he left England for Italy. The book, entitled Evenings of a W orking 
Man , was published in June 1844. The author, however, did not 
long survive the event, and it is related that, when at the point of 
death, he suddenly demanded w r riting materials and made up a 
parcel containing a copy of his little production, in which he had 
previously inscribed the novelist’s name, with the intimation that 
the author presented it “With his devotion” — a simple and un- 
assuming incident that considerably affected the recipient of the 
gift . — K 1. 

A very kind and graceful act was performed by Dickens this 
year [1844]. Mr. Newby published, in one volume, the Evenings 
of a Working Man : being the Occupation of his Scanty 
Leisure, by John Overs. With a Preface, relating to the Author, 
by Charles Dickens. The preface is of the most charming descrip- 
tion. It first mentions that Overs was a carpenter, who had em- 
ployed his evenings in literary compositions, and applied to him, 
as he was relinquishing the editorship of Bentley's Miscellany , for 
help to get his writings into notice. After some correspondence, 
Dickens trying to dissuade him from the perils of authorship, and 
after a personal interview, “ho wrote me,” he says, “ as manly and 
straightforward, but, withal, as modest, a letter as ever I read in 
my life.” Dickens accordingly consented to assist him, and got 
several of his pieces inserted in a magazine . — 11 4. 

AS A BELIEVER. 

I will dispose here of the question often asked me by correspon- 
dents, and lately renewed in many epistles, “ Jf r as Charles Dickens 
a believer in our Saviour's life and ' teachings ? ” Persons addressing 
to mo such inquiries must he profoundly ignorant of the words of 
the great author, whom they endeavour to place by implication 
among the “ Unbelievers.” If anywhere, out of the Bible, God’s 
goodness and mercy are solemnly commended to the world's atten- 
tion, it is in the pages of I )ickcns. I had supposed that these written 
words of his, which have been so extensively copied both in Europe 
and America, from his last will and testament, dated the 12th of 
May, 1869, would forever remain an emphatic testimony to his 
Christian faith : “ I commit my soul to the mercy of God, through 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and l exhort my dear children 
humbly to try to guide themselves by the teachings of the New 
Testament .”— F 1. 

ATTITUDE TO NONCONFORMITY. 

Everyone knows Charles Dickens’s savage hostility to foreign 
missions, exemplified especially in the Pickwick Papers and in Bleak 
House. Some reprints from Dickens’s, contributions to his own 
periodicals repeat his hatred of Nonconformity — a hatred to the 
understanding of which his biography gives no due. Thus he 



168 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


describes a service in a dissenting chapel : “ A small, close chapel 
with a whitewashed wall and plain deal pews and pulpit contains 
a closely packed congregation as different in dress as they are 
opposed in maimer to that we have just quitted. There is some- 
thing in the sonorous quaver of the harsh voices, in the lank and 
hollow faces of the men and the sour solemnity of the women, 
which bespeaks this a stronghold of intolerant zeal and ignorant 
enthusiasm. The preacher enters the pulpit : he is a coarso, hard- 
faced man of forbidding aspect, clad in rusty black, and bearing in 
his hand a small, plain Bible, from which he selects some passage 
for his text while the hymn is concluding. ... A low moaning 
is heard, the women rock their bodies to and fro and wring their 
hands. The preacher’s fervour increases, the perspiration starts 
upon his brow ; his face is flushed, and he clenches his hands con- 
vulsively as he draws a hideous and appalling picture of the horrors 
preparing for the wicked in a future state. A great excitement 
is visible among his hearers, a scream is heard, and some young girl 
falls senseless on the floor, 5 ’ etc., etc. Where did Dickens get his 
ideas about Evangelicalism and foreign missions ? Was there ever 
any foundation for the stories about the moral pocket-handker- 
chiefs blending select tales with woodcuts, or for the African project 
for cultivating coffee and educating the natives of Borrioboola-Gha 
on the left bank of the Niger ? — “Claudius Clear,” i n British Weekly , 
January 23, 1908. 

VIEWS ON SPIRITUALISM. 

The following letter refers to Mrs. Milner-Gibson and the spiritual- 
istic movement : — 

Charles Dickens to E. L. L. 

“ Gad’s Hill Place, Higham, by Rochester, Kent/ 

“ Sunday , Se [dernier 16, I860. 

“My dear Mrs. Linton,-- Pray do not suppose that I sent you 
that very unspiritual magazine for any other purpose than to keep 
you au courant to the subject. It has not in the least disturbed my 
equanimity. 

“ I hold personal inquiry on my part into these proceedings to be 
out of the question for two reasons. Firstly, because the condi- 
tions under which such inquiries take place — as 1 know in the recent 
case of two friends of mine, with whom I discussed them — are pre- 
posterously wanting in the commonest securities against deceit or 
mistake. Secondly, because the people lie so very hard, both con- 
cerning what did take place and what impression it made at the 
time on the inquirer. 

“ Mr. Hume, or Home (I rather think he has gone by both names), 
I take the liberty of regarding as an impostor. If ho appeared on 
his own behalf in any controversy with me, I should take the further 
liberty of letting him know publicly why. But bo assured that if be 
were demonstrated a humbug in every microscopic cell of his skin 
and globule of his blood, the disciples would still believe and worship. 




CHARLES DICKENS IN 1870 
The year of the novelist's death 


169 



170 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


“ Mrs. Gibson is an impulsive, compassionate, affectionate woman. 
But as to the strength of her head ; — would you be very much 
surprised by its making a mistake ? Did you never know it much 
mistaken in a person or two whom it devoutly believed in ? — Believe 
me very faithfully your true friend, Charles Dickens.” — L 3 

SENSE OF THE UGLY — AND THE BEAUTIFUL. 

If Dickens had possessed a keen and enthralling sense of beauty, 
it would not have been possible for Nature to gift him with what one 
may call such a supreme sense of ugliness. His sense of the incon- 
gruous, the odd, the unusual, the inharmonious, in physical appear- 
ance, is so dominant a faculty in him that one can hardly doubt that 
his imagination took a pleasure in emphasising and recording the 
repellent facial peculiarities of Uriah Heep, James Carker, and 
others. Even in women it is the unexpected, the grotesque, or the 
startling that he really notices and brings before us ; never the 
beautiful, in any poetic sense of beauty. . . . 

Let me, as far as space allows, illustrate my meaning. Turn 
to David Copper field, and see how Dickens introduces Mr. Creaklc, 
the schoolmaster at Salem House, to his readers. 

“ Mr. Creakle’s face was liery, and his eyes were small, and deep 
in his head ; he had thick veins in his forehead, a little nose, and 
a large chin. He was bald on the top of his head ; and h;id some 
thin wet-looking hair that was just turning grey, brushed across 
each temple, so that the two sides interlaced on his forehead.” 

Then, on page 123, we have the following description of Mr. 
Micaw'ber : 

“ I went in, and found there (in the counting-house) a stoutish, 
middle-aged person, in a brown surtout and black tights and shoes, 
with no more hair upon his head (which was a large one, and very 
shiny) than there is upon an egg, and with a very extensive face, 
which he turned full upon me.” 

Those are two excellent examples of the constant manner of 
Dickens ; a manner so constant, so unchanging, that it w ould 
hardly be an exaggeration to say that one might find an instance 
of it on almost every page. But this seems to prove conclusively 
that, as I have suggested, it was the ugly, the repellent, the in- 
congruous, that first arrested the attention of Dickens, especially 
the strange and disagreeable in male physiognomy. Dickens, in 
fact, had the feminine instinct for instantly detecting and resenting 
anything coarse and unpleasant in the appearance of men. That 
his own sex happened to be the same as the sex of those ho was de- 
scribing only made him more savagely resentful of the inherent 
ugliness and coarseness of the average man ; more fiercely intolerant 
of it ; more sternly determined to denounce that unpardonable 
lack of delicacy and beauty in the male, to hold it up to contempt 
and eternal opprobrium. In character after character, in Mr. 
Micawber, in Mr. Creakle, in Mr. Oeakle’s lame assistant, Tungay ; 
in Jeremiah Flintwinch, in Monsieur Rigaud, in Squeers, the York- 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


171 


shir© schoolmaster ; in Arthur Gride, in Ralph Nickleby, in Jerry 
Cruncher, inFagin, in Monks, in Wemmick, in Jaggers, in Mr. Murd- 
stone, in Mr. Chadband, in Major Bagstock, in Simon Tappertit-- 
in all these, and in numberless others whose names will quickly occur 
to the mind of the student of Dickens, there is some marked, generally 
grotesque or repellent, physical peculiarity, or set of peculiarities, 
which Dickens not only perceives and resents, but which he is 
so resolved that the reader shall also perceive and resent that he 
describes the unpleasant details over and over again, insists upon 
them, emphasises and magnifies them, till at last the reader begins 
to feel as if he were in a surgical instrument maker’s shop, gazing 
round in horror upon the assortment of hideously suggestive and 
unnatural appliances. 

We should reasonably expect that so miraculously keen a sense 
of the ugly and iepellent in the male, leading to a repudiation of it 
more sustained and vehement than can be found elsewhere in 
literature, would be balanced by an equally marked sense of the 
physically delicate and beautiful in woman. But this, though we 
certainly have a logical right to look for it, is precisely what we do 
not find. We do not find, even in Dickens's description of tho 
appearance of men intended outwardly to rank as handsome and 
distinguished, any definite sense of masculine beauty. This, 
though I think it is undeniable, is strange ; and one feels something 
akin to pity for the genius, wonderful as it was, which could evi- 
dently detect, with the unerring and instant accuracy of a photo- 
graphic plate, every inharmonious detail in each male figure or 
countenance presented to it ; but was, as evidently, utterly power- 
less to discern and reproduce in words — if Dickens had discerned 
this he would not have been able to help reproducing it in words, 
and in many words — either beauty in man or beauty in woman. 
Not even in tho description of James Steerforth is there the slightest 
hint of any ability to grasp, as a painter or poet or sculptor would 
grasj), any nobly marked detail of masculine grace. This is a 
crucial instance, as the magnetic influence of Steerforth over both 
men and women — over David Copperficld, over Little Em’ly, over 
Rosa Dart le— was supposed largely to reside in his (Steerf orth's) 
handsome face and figure. But when it comes to setting that face 
and figure before the reader Dickens is compelled to fall back upon 
the most commonplace and unsatisfying of generalities. It is not 
a question of any intentional reticence. It is clear that Dickens, 
though he perceives ugliness with quite painful vividness, does not 
see beauty ; or, to be absolutely correct, while he becomes instantly 
aware of the slightest flaw or blemish, every spot or scar, every 
wrinkle or pimple, on the faces presented to him, he has only a vague 
general sense of the beautiful. Beauty makes no detailed impression 
either on the retina of his eye or on his mental retina. 

[The foregoing passage is quoted from a remarkable critique on 
Dickens which Mr. Barlow contributed to the Contemporary Review , 
and which he later issued as a booklet. Mr. Barlow is impressed 
by the tragic and abysmal aspects of Dickens’s writings, aspects 



172 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


which he thinks go far to associate Dickens with the old Elizabethan 
tragic playwrights. But, as “ T. P.” says in reproducing the passage 
in his Weekly (November 19, 1909), “ Many good Dickensians 
will demur ; ” a view strengthened to some extent by the appended 
extract from Celebrities and L by Henriette Corkran] : 

“ I remember meeting Charles Dickens one afternoon in my 
mother's salon in Paris, llo had on a wonderful embroidered 
waistcoat, a flamboyant necktie, and a gorgeous watch-chain. He 
pinched my fat cheeks, and I slapped his hand. I recollect him 
saying to my mother, ‘ Be sure always to have pretty nurses about 
your children. If I have an ugly person about me I am certain to 
get into their tricks of ugliness ; if anyone squints, I am sure to 
squint too ; if one stammers, I am sure to stammer also. So be 
careful to surround your children with healthful and beautiful 
influences.’ I made a big grimace, and he made another, and 
then we both laughed merrily.” 

APPRECIATION OF PICTURES. 

That Dickens appreciated pictorial as well as dramatic art is 
shown in his speeches. For instance, speaking at the anniversary 
meeting of the Artists’ Benevolent Fund on 8th May 1858, he said : 

“ I am strongly disposed to believe there are very few debates 
in Parliament so important to the public welfare as a really good 
picture. I have also a notion that any number of bundles of the 
driest legal chall that ever w T as chopped would be cheaply expended 
for one really meritorious engraving. — S 1. 

Again, in an address at a dinner of the Artists’ General Benevolent 
Institution, 29th March 1862, he said : 

“ I decline to present the artist to the notice of the public as a 
grown-up child, or as a strange, unaccountable, moon-stricken 
person, waiting helplessly in the street of life to be helped over 
the road by the crossing-sweeper ; on the contrary, the Artist whom 
I wish to present is one to whom the perfect enjoyment of the five 
senses is essential to every achievement of his life. He can gain 
no wealth nor fame by buying something which he never touched, 
and selling it to another who would also never touch or see it, but 
w T as compelled to strike out for himself every spark of tiro which 
lighted, burned, and perhaps consumed him. He must win the battle 
of life with his owtl hand, and with his own eyes, and was obliged 
to act as general, captain, ensign, non-commissioned officer, private, 
drummer, great arms, small arms, infantry, cavalry, all his own 
unaided self. When, therefore, 1 ask help for the artist, I do not 
make my appeal for one w ho was a cripple from his birth, but I ask 
it as part payment of a great debt which all sensible and civilised 
creatures owe to art, as a mark of respect to art, as a decoration — 
not as a badge — as a remembrance of what this land, or any land, 
would be without art, and as the token of an appreciation of the 
works of the most successful artists of ibis country.” — S 1. 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


173 


LOVE OF FLOWERS. 

“ The gardener,” said Dickens, addressing the Gardeners* Bene- 
volent Institution, on 14th June 1852, “ particularly needs such 
a provision as this Institution affords. His gains are not great; 
lie knows gold and silver more as being of the colour of fruits and 
flowers than by its presence in his pockets ; he is subjected to that 
kind of labour which renders him peculiarly liable to infirmity; 
and when old age comes upon him, the gardener is of all men 
perhaps best able to appreciate the merits of such an institution. 
To all indeed, present and absent, who are descended from the first 
* gardener Adam and his wife,* the benefits of such a society arc 
obvious. In the culture of flowers there cannot, by their very 
nature, be anything solitary or exclusive. The wind that blows 
over the cottager’s porch, sweeps also over the grounds of the 
nobleman ; and as the rain descends on the just and on the unjust, 
so it communicates to all gardeners, both rich and poor, an inter- 
change of pleasure and enjoyment ; am* the gardener of the rich 
man, in developing and enhancing a fruitful flavour or a delightful 
scent, is, in some sort, the gardener of everybody else. The love 
of gardening is associated with all conditions of men, and all periods 
of time. The scholar and the statesman, men of peace and men 
of war, have agreed in all ages to delight in gardens. The most 
ancient people of the earth had gardens where there is now nothing 
but solitary heaps of earth. The poor man in crowded cities gardens 
still in jugs and basins and bottles ; in factories and workshops 
people garden ; and even the prisoner is found gardening in his 
lonely cell, after years and years of solitary confinement. Surely, 
then, the gardener who produces shapes and objects so lovely 
and so comforting, should have some hold upon the world’s 
remembrance when he himself becomes in need of comfort.” — 
SI. 


ON “ MATERIALISM ” IN PROGRESS. 

Dickens delivered the Inaugural Address on the opening of the 
Winter Session of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, on 27th 
September 1809. 

4 1 confess,” he said, 44 that I do not understand this much-used 
and much-abvsed phrase — the 4 material age.’ I cannot compre- 
hend— if anybody can I very much doubt— -its logical signification. 
For instance, has electricity become more material in the mind 
of any sane or moderately insane man, woman, or child, because 
of the discovery that in the good providence of God it could be 
made available for tho service and use of man to an immeasurably 
greater extent than for his destruction ? Do I make a more material 
journey to the bedside of my dying parent or my dying child when 
I travel there at the rate of sixty miles an hour, than when I travel 
thither at the rate of six ? Rather, in tho swiftest case, does 
not my agonised heart become over fraught with gratitude to the 
Supreme Beneficence from whom alone could have proceeded the 



174 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


wonderful means of shortening my suspense ? What is the materi- 
ality of th3 cable or the wire compared with the materiality of 
the spark ? What is the materiality of certain chemical substances 
that we can weigh or measure, imprison or release, compared with 
the materiality of their appointed affinities and repulsions presented 
to them from the instant of their creation to the day of judgment ? 
When did this so-called material age begin ? With the use of 
clothing ; with the discovery of the compass ; with the invention of 
the art of printing ? Surely it has been a Ion" time about ; and which 
is the more material object, the farthing tallow candle that will not 
give me light, or that dame of gas which will ? The true material 
age is the stupid Chinese age, in which no new or grand revelations 
of nature are granted, because they are ignorantly and insolently 
repelled, instead of being diligently and humbly sought. The 
difference between the ancient fiction of the mad braggart defying 
the lightning and the modern historical picture of Franklin drawing 
it towards his kite, in order that he might the more profoundly 
study that which was set before him to be studied (or it would not 
have been there), happilyexpresses to my mind the distinction between 
the much-maligned material sages — material in one sense, I suppose, 
but in another very immaterial sages — of the Celestial Empire 
school. Consider whether it is likely or unlikely, natural or unnatural, 
reasonable or unreasonable, that I, a being capable of thought, 
and finding myself surrounded by such discovered wonders on every 
hand, should sometimes ask myself the question — should put to 
myself the solemn consideration — can these things be among 
those things which might have been disclosed by divine lips nigh 
upon two thousand years ago, but that the people of that time 
could not bear them ? And whether this be so or no, if I am so 
surrounded on every hand, is not my moral sensibility tremendously 
increased thereby, and with it my intelligence and submission as 
a child of Adam and of the dust, before that Shining Source which 
equally of all that is granted and ail that is withheld holds in 11 is 
mighty hands the unapproachable mysteries of life and death ? 
“ To the students of your industrial classes generally 1 have had 
it in my mind, first, to commend the short motto, in two words, 
‘ Courage — Persevere.’ This is the motto of a friend and worker. 
I would further commend to them a very wise and witty piece of 
advice on the conduct of the understanding which was given more 
than half a century ago by the Rev. Sydney Smith— wisest and 
wittiest of the friends I have lost. He says — and he is speaking, 
you will please understand, as I speak, to a school of volunteer 
students — he says : ‘ There is a piece of foppery which is to be 
-cautiously guarded against, the foppery of universality, of knowing 
all sciences and excelling in all arts — chemistry, mathematics, 
algebra, dancing, history, reasoning, riding, fencing, Low Dutch, 
High Dutch, and natural philosophy. In short, the modern precept 
of education very often is, “ Take the Admirable Crichton for your 
mo^pl, I would have you ignorant of nothing.” Now,’ says he, 
4 my advice, on the contrary, is to have the courage to be ignorant 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 


175 


of a great number of things, in order that you may avoid the calamity 
of being ignorant of everything.’ To this I would superadd a little 
truth, which holds equally good of my own life, and the life of every 
eminent man I have ever known. The one serviceable, safe, certain, 
remunerative, attainable quality in every study and in every 
pursuit is the quality of attention. My own invention or im- 
agination, such as it is, I can most truthfully assure you, would 
never have served me as it has, but for the habit of commonplace, 
humble, patient, daily, toiling, drudging attention. Genius, vivacity, 
quickness of penetration, brilliancy in association of ideas — such 
mental qualities, like the qualities of the apparition of the externally 
armed head in Macbeth , will not be commanded ; but attention, 
after due term of submissive service, always will. Like certain 
plants which the poorest peasant may grow in the poorest soil, 
it can be cultivated by anyone, and it is certain in its own good 
season to bring forth flowers and fruit. I can most truthfully 
assure you, by the bye, that this eulogium on attention is so far quite 
disinterested on my part as that it has not the least reference what- 
ever to the attention with which you have honoured me .” — S 1. 

i 

A3 A SPEAKER. 

Dickens’s sense of decorum, of what w T as proper when the public 
gaze was upon him, gave him, as a rule, a somewhat hard and 
indifferent expression when he appeared as a speaker or reader. 
There was one occasion, however, when the man himself was re- 
vealed. This was at the brilliant gathering in 1807 to wish him 
God-speed on his departure for America. While Lord Lvtton 
and Lord Chief -Justice C-ockburn were eulogising him, he seemed 
really pained, and his eyes softened again and again as they fell 
upon the faces of distinguished men sitting in various parts of 
the room, or on the emblazoned titles of his works placed among 
the decorations. When he came to respond there was no trace 
of the actor, or, in one sense, of the artist. What he said came 
straight from the heart. The music of his voice ; his manner, 
which was perfect, carried away his audience, and never perhaps 
has a speech been more successful. Dickens's speeches were never 
written and learned off by heart, like so many orations . — R 2. 

I heard all of Dickens’s readings, and heard him deliver several 
after-dinner speeches. Let me say at once that he was the very 
best after-dinner speaker T ever heard ; I do not quite know whom 
I should put second to him. His voice was rich, full, and deep, 
capable of imparting without effort every tone and half-tone of 
emotion, pathetic, inspiriting, or humorous, that any spoken words 
could demand. His deep eyes seemed to flash upon every listener 
among the audience whom he addressed. I have no doubt that 
his after-dinner speeches were prepared in some fashion, but they 
carried with them no hint of preparation. They seemed to come 
from the very heart of the speaker and to go straight to the heart 
of the listener. I heard him make his famous speech at the dinner 



176 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


of the Press Fund, in which he described with so much humour 
and so much vividness, and with so many sudden gleams of un- 
expected pathos, some of his own experiences as a reporter ; and 
although most of us in that company were newspaper men in whose 
minds speech-making had become somewhat too closely associated 
with mechanical taskwork, I think we were all of us alike carried 
away by the extraordinary charm of that speech. Dickens’s 
readings seemed most of them in their way inimitable, but I 
generally found that I could criticise them as I could not criticise 
his after-dinner eloquence. — Justin McCarthy. M 5. 

When a lad I heard Charles Dickens speak several times — once 
at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, London, in Charles Kean’s 
days. On that occasion, the Merchant of Venice having been 
performed the night before, Dickens had an eloquent allusive passage 
describing what had been the scene. Always his delivery was very 
splendid, with much pomp and rotundity in it; but evidencing 
that what he was saying had been written and learnt. Another 
time I heard him was during the Crimean War. The calamitous 
blunders that had taken place and the culpable confusion which 
prevailed in the Crimea led to the formation of an Administrative 
Reform Association, of which Mr. Roebuck was chairman. A 
meeting in support of it was held at Drury Lane Theatre, at which 
Charles Dickens was a principal speaker. The place of meeting 
again took his thoughts into the theatrical region, from which they 
were never very remote, and he had a passage in his speech com- 
paring the whole business of the war to the performance of a play. 
The peroration of this passage was as follows — and I recall it thinking 
of what I have said of Bernard Vaughan, and of the suggestion 
of that story that the taught kind of elocution docs not tell best 
in British public speaking : “ And if anyone questions,” said the 
highly elocutionary novelist — “ if anyone questions our right to 
eriticise the performance, our reply is that the orchestra consists 
of a very powerful piper, whom we have to pay.” I don’t mean 
to say that this — delivered with magnificent inflection— did not 
tell. It did. But, all the same, one felt that a little of such speak- 
ing went a long way, and that to bring oratory to such elocutionary 
perfection was not the way to make it perfect. — Sir Edward 
Russell, in That Reminds Me. 

Dickens was by far the best after-dinner speaker I have ever heard. 
I was so much in the habit of going with him to public dinners, 
and the managers of those entertainments so frequently begged me 
to propose his health as chairman, that it became a joke between us 
as to whether I could possibly find anything new to say. On one 
occasion — it was at one of the Newsvendors’ dinners — I said nothing 
at all ! I duly rose, but, after a few words, my thoughts entirely 
deserted me, I entirely lost the thread of what I had intended saying, 
I felt as though a black veil were dropped over my head ; all I 
could do was to mutter “ health,” “ chairman,” and to sit down. 
I was tolerably well known to the guests at those dinners, and they 



PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 177 

were evidently much astonished. They cheered the toast, as in 
duty bound, and Dickens was on his feet in a moment. 44 Often,” 
he said— 44 often as I have had the pleasure of having my health 
proposed by my friend, who has just sat down, I have never yet 
seen him so overcome by his affection and generous emotion as on 
the present occasion.” These words turned what would have been 
a fiasco into a triumph. 44 I saved you that time, I think, sir ! ” 
he said to me as I walked away with him. 44 Serves you well right 
for being over-confident ! ” — Edmund Yates. Y. 

UIS METHOD OF SPEECH-MAKING. 

Mr. J. H. Yoxall, the author of The Wander Years , once met 
Lewis Carroll in the dons’ common room at Christ Church, Oxford. 
The talk turned on public speaking and the use of written notes. 
One of the dons cited Dickens. Dickens, the most brilliant 
after-dinner speaker of his day, never used a written note. 

44 He used to construct the mental imago of a wheel,” continued 
the don, 4 4 with the heads of his speech to form the spokes, and the 
illustration for each to form the tire. As he went on speaking, 
you could see him knock each used portion of his mental wheel 
away with a raised finger, and when he had knocked away ail the 
spokes ” 

44 He had spoken,” said Lewis Carroll, the only words he uttered 
all the evening. — Youth's Companion (Boston), 1909. 

HIS RULE OF LIFE. 

The novelist’s 44 rule of life,” taken from David Hopperfidd , 
runs as follows : 44 Whatever I have tried to do in life, 1 have tried 
with all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to, I 
have devoted myself to completely. Never to put one hand to 
anytliing on which I could not throw my whole self, and never to 
affect depreciation of my own work, whatever it was, I find now to 
have been one of my golden rules.” 



rx 


AMONG IIIS FRIENDS 

FORSTER : THE “ H ARBITRARY GENT.” 

There is a lifelike miniature sketch of Forster in his own biography 
of Dickens, and done by the latter. Mrs. Gamp is supposed to have 
resolved on accompanying Dickens and his troupe of amateur 
actors, bound for Manchester and Liverpool, to perform Even/ Man 
in. his Humour , for the benefit of Leigh Hunt's exchequer. Forster 
was to play Master Kitely. Mrs. Gamp is standing on the platform, 
and an attache of Dickens’s company points out to her its various 
members as they make their appearance to enter the train — Douglas 
Jerrold, Leech, etc. In her own inimitable style she is reporting, 
in a letter to Mrs. Harris, what she saw and heard. When Forster 
arrives, “ this resolute gent,” she is told, a-coming along here as 
is aperrantly going to take the railways by storm — him with the 
tight legs, and his weskit very much buttoned, and his mouth very 
much shut, and his coat a-flying open, and his heels a-giving it. to 
the platform, is a crikit and beeogruffer and our principal tragegian.” 
—E. 

Among the Fleet Street cabmen Mr. Forster was known as the 
“ Bob man,” it being his custom to ride from the office to his 
chambers in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, when his wo»k was finished in 
the early hours of the morning, for which he pan! one shilling. 
The fare was an acceptable one as the distance was short ; but l 
fear that the driver, no less than Mr. Carter and the compositors, 
would have agreed with his fare’s friend Mr. Dickens, in describing 
Mr. Forster as “ a harbitrary gent.” —John Britton, in the Daily 
News, January 21, 1896. 

Sir John Robinson met Dickens frequently at the board meetings 
of the Guild of Literature and Art. Forster he never knew in- 
timately, but what he did see of him tended to confirm the cabman’s 
dictum that he was a “ harbitrary gent.” Mr. Forster’s great 
defect was that he would be the central figure wherever he was— in 
society or in literature. Pomposity seemed to be connected with 
Forster’s very name. In his works he frequently gave pain to 
others, not from any malicious motive, but from an overweening 
sense of his own consequence. He had, however, a genuine affection 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


179 


for Dickens, and this covered ipany littlenesses. Dickens, although 
of course he was aware of this, delighted in a jovial way to make 
sport of his friend’s peculiarities. Those who had the pleasure of 
walking home with the author of Pickwick after a dinner at which 
Forster had been a guest, were delighted with his imitations of the 
interruptions, tiie forwardness, the assumptions of infallible know- 
ledge of the biographer and essayist. Dickens had a sincere regard 
for him, and valued his opinion on literary questions, but he laughed 
at him — sometimes to his face — and made boisterous fun of his 
pretensions. One of the novelist’s stories was that, dining one 
day at Forster’s house, and boiled beef being put on the table, the 
host noticed that there were no carrots. 44 Mary,’’ he said, 44 carrots ! ” 
The girl said there were none. “ Mary,” was the stern rejoinder 
(with a wave of the hand), 44 let there he carrots ! ” — R 2. 

Once, when I was staying with Walter Ravage Landor, he had a 
small dinner-party, of Dickens John Forster, and myself. This 
was my lirst introduction to both these men. 1 found Dickens 
charming, and Forster pompous, heavy, and ungenial. Dickens 
was bright and gay and winsome, and 'while treating Mr. Landor 
with the respect of a younger man for an elder, allowed his wit to 
play about him, bright and harmless as summer lightning. He 
included me, then quite a beginner in literature, young in years and 
shy by temperament, and made me feel at home with him ; but 
Forster was saturnine and cynical. He was the 44 harbitrary gent ” 
of the cabman’s rank, and one of the most jealous of men. Dickens 
and Landor were his property -pocket-boroughs in a way— and he 
resented the introduction of a third person and a stranger. — Mrs. 
Lynn Linton, in The Bookman (New York), vol. iii. 

[Mrs. Lynn Linton always speaks very bitterly of Forster. Else- 
where in the same article she calls him 4k treacherous and disloyal 
as he was egotistic and jealous.” Referring to his Life of Landor , 
too, she remarks, 44 When he was dead and done with, and of no 
more value to the man he had trusted, then the true nature of the 
fi icndship came to light, and the result was a cold and carping 
and unsympathetic biography.'*] 

Forster, as a fine critic, an accomplished man of the world, a 
lawyer, and an editor, was the friend and helper of many literary 
men. His name figures largely in the indexes of all the beat memoirs 
of the period, and it still crops up in new narratives. For many 
years he was tho factotum of Browning. The references to him in 
the Browning Letters betray at times a certain restiveness, and 
occasionally a little dissatisfaction, on tho part of the poet. As a 
matter of fact, their relations came to a sudden close, and the 
story of the quarrel— sudden and awful as a tornado — has just 
been told in Mr. It. 0. Lehmann's very interesting Memories of 
Half a Century (L 2). To such an extent did Forster claim 
proprietorship over Browning that ho expected the poet to dine 
with him every Sunday, or to be invited with Browning to other 
tables on that day. Quoting from the diary of his father, Mr. 



180 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Lehmann relates how Browning’s nervous and sensitive nature at 
last rebelled against this bear-leading. 

“ At a dinner at 10 Kensington Palace Gardens, the house of my 
brother-in-law, Mr. Benzon, Browning and Forster began to nag 
at each other, and so continued for some time, till Browning spoke 
of the incredible neglect which had lately occurred at Marlborough 
House, where, when the Princess of Wales had suddenly been taken 
very ill, no carriage could be got for the purpose of fetching a doctor. 
Forster at once ridiculed the story as a foolish invention. Browning 

gave chapter and verse, adding that he had it from Lady . 

Forster retorted that he did not believe it a whit more on account 
of that authority. Suddenly Browning became very fierce, and 
said, ‘ Dare to say one word in disparagement of that lady ’ — 
seizing a decanter while he spoke — k and l will pitch this bottle of 
claret at your head ! ’ Forster seemed as much taken aback as the 
other guests. Our host, w T ho had left the room with Sir Edwin 
Landseer, on his return at this moment found Browning standing up 
in great anger, with a decanter in his hand ready for action. He 
had the greatest difficulty in realising the situation. I soon made 
him hurry everyone from the room, but all attempts to bring about 
an immediate apology or reconciliation were in vain. A kind of 
peace was, however, patched up before Forster’s death.” 

Forster threatened to be a bachelor after his brief betrothal to 
Letitia E. Landon, the graceful writer of album stories and verses, 
whose unhappy end on the Gold (’oast is an old story. But in 1856 
he astonished his friends by marrying. Particularly he astonished 
Dickens, who wrote : “I have the most prodigious, overwhelming, 
crushing, astounding, blinding, deafening, pulverising, scarifying 
secret, of which Forster is the hero . . . after I knew it (from himself) 
this morning, I lay down fiat as if an engine and tender had fallen 
upon me.” Forster’s chosen wife was the widow of Colburn, the 
publisher, who owned a house in Montague Square, to which Forster 
removed, retaining, however, his chambers in 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields 
— where Tennyson also lived. 

In play, as w r eli as in business, Forster held his own. When 
arranging private theatricals, Dickens, with a true appreciation of 
his character, awarded him the part in Lyt ton’s comedy Not so Bad 
as We Seem of Mr. Hardman, who said severe things and did kind 
ones. Leigh Hunt says that in Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His 
Humour Forster delivered his lines with a musical flow and a sense 
of their grace and beauty “ unknown, I believe, to the recitation of 
actors at present. At least, I have never heard anything like it 
since Edmund Kean’s. The lines came out of his lips os if he loved 
them. I allude particularly, in this instance, to his performance of 
the Younger Brother. But he did it always, when sweet verse 
required it.” Nearly all the manuscripts of Dickens’s novels came 
into Forster’s hands, and were bequeathed by him to the nation, 
along with his valuable collection of books and paintings. Forster 
died in 1876, just when his last biography, his Life of Jonathan 
Sunft, w y as appearing. — T.P’s Weekly , November 27, 1908, 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 181 

It is certain that Forster took the utmost interest in Dickens, 
even to the extent of seeing everything he wrote through the press, 
and as to the genuineness of Dickens’s regard for him I have the 
most positive proof. Dickens once wrote to me spelling the word 
“ Foster ” (in “ Foster Brothers ”) with an r “ because I am always 
thinking of my friend Forster.” Long afterwards, in acknowledging 
a service, which I had been fortunately able to do for him, in terms 
far more generous than it deserved, he actually signs the letter, not 
Charles Dickens, but John Forster ! — P 4. 

John Forster, the friend and biographer of Dickens, was also a 
life-long friend of Jerrold's ; but we imagine his friendship with 
the latter must have been frequently strained almost to snapping- 
point. . . . When some friends were talking of Forster, and one of 
them suggested that he was to Dickens what Boswell was to Johnson, 
Jerrold agreed ; “ But with this difference,” said he, “ that he does 
not do the ‘Box’ well.” This was not necessarily unfriendly. 
But when, some time after, ho went up to the modem Boswell at 
his club, and said, “ Well, Forster, they tell me Dickens pays the 
dog-tax for you,” it must be admitted that none but the most good- 
natured of friends would ever have forgiven the insult . — F 8. 

Forster had the most gentle heart, with a reserve of genuine 
tenderness, which was a surprise in so burly and obstreperous a 
being. He loved to cherish anniversaries, birthdays, and the like, 
and clung fondly to their recurring festivities. When Dickens’s 
last birthday came round in 1870, Forster invited him and his 
sister-in-law to dine. Charles Kent has described to me how, after 
dinner, the kindly host drank to his old friend’s health, and then 
in a tumult of feeling, rising up, his full glass in his hand, walked 
round to Dickens, and, with tears in his eyes and voice, clasped his 
hand and faltered, “ Cod bless you ! ” This little scene was the 
fitting close to a friendship of over thirty years, and brings Forster 
before us in his most amiable and attractive guise . — F 3. 

THACKERAY I TIIK YATES QUARREL. 

It was in the year 1836 that Mr. Thackeray, according to an 
anecdoto related by himself, offered Mr. Dickens to undertake the 
task of illustrating one of his works. The story was told by the 
former at an anniversary dinner of the Royal Academy a few’ years 
since, Mr. Dickens being present on the occasion. “ I can re- 
member ” (said Mr. Thackeray) “ when Mr. Dickens was a very young 
man, and had commenced del igh ting the world with some charming 
humorous works in covers, which were coloured light green, and 
came out once a month, that this young man wanted an artist to 
illustrate his writings ; and I recollect walking up to his chambers 
in Furnival’a Inn, with tw’o or three drawings in my hand, which, 
strange to say, he did not find suitable. But for the unfortunate 
blight which came over my artistical existence, it would have been 
,my pride and my pleasure to have endeavoured one day to find a 



182 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


place on these walls for one of my performances.” The work 
referred to was the Pickwick Papers. — H 4. 

In the June of 1858, Mr. Edmund Yates, then editing a periodical 
called Town Talk , bethought himself, in an evil moment, and when 
under the immediate necessity of producing “ copy, 7 ’ to write an 
article on 4V Mr. W. M. Thackeray.” The article opened with a 
description of Thackeray’s appearance, a description which, though 
not Hattering, might probably have been borne with equanimity. 
But the writer then went on to say : 

” No one meeting him could fail to recognise in him a gentleman ; 
his bearing is cold and uninviting, his style of conversation either 
openly cynical or affectedly good-natured and benevolent ; his 
bonhomie is forced, his wit biting, his pride easily touched. . . 

Of this article it is needless to speak in stronger language than 
that used by Mr. Yates himself. Even at the time he made no 
attempt to defend it ; and, writing years afterwards, he says that 
“ no one can see more clearly than ” he does its 4V silliness and bad 
taste.” But, granting to t he full that the article was a peccant 
article, I fear it must be owned, even by Thackeray’s admirers, 
that the punishment indicted on the writer was disproportionate, 
and, which is worse, not of an altogether right kind. 

He first, on the 14th of June 1858, wrote a tierce letter to 
Mr. Yates, a letter so couched as certainly not to facilitate apology 
or retraction. Mr. Yates appealed for advice to Dickens, and 
the impression produced at the time seems certainly to have 
been that Dickens conducted the controversy from this point 
in a spirit hostile to Thackeray. Be that as it may, Thackeray 
next took the unusual course of appealing to the committee 
of the Garrick Club, on the plea that he had only met Mr. 
Yates at the Club, and that it was for the Club to protect 
him against Mr. Yates’s insults. This, with all admiration for 
Thackeray, was scarcely, I think, de bonne guerre. The case was 
hardly one on which the Club ought to have been called upon to 
adjudicate ; nor, in truth, did Thackeray himself come into court 
with perfectly clean hands, for he had made some of the members 
figure in his books, and not to their advantage. However, .his 
influence at the Club was paramount. Dickens was a member too. 
but did not go there very often, while Thackeray was extremely 
fond of “ the G.,” “ the little G.,” 41 the dearest place in the world, 
as he affectionately called it, and a constant habitue . In July, at a 
general meeting, resolutions were passed, notwithstanding all that 
Dickens and Wilkie Collins could uige, which, involved the ejection 
of Mr. Yates from the Club unless ho made 44 ample apology.” This 
he refused to do, and he was turned out — a tremendous punishment, 
it must be owned, to a young fellow of twenty-seven just beginning 
life. 

It is difficult to understand why Thackeray was so ruffled by 
an article in an obscure paper like Town Talk. The explanation 
given at the time, and very current since, is that the whole affair 
was an outburst of long-smouldering jealousy between Thackeray 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


183 


and Dickens. Such a surmise must, from its nature, be difficult 
of proof or disproof. Mr. Yates says, “ There was no intimacy, 
nor anything really like friendship between the two men.” And 
this is possibly true, though there are many records of friendly 
meetings, as at Boulogne in 1854, and at the private theatricals at 
Tavistock House on the 18th of June 1855. Dickens was no critic, 
except where art of a similar kind to his own was concerned, and 
most likely thought rather meanly of his great rival’s works. 
Thackeray, whose literary culture was far wider, expressed, both 
in his writings, and also in private correspondence never meant 
for publication, a very just appreciation of Dickens’s magnificent 
gifts.— F. T. Marzials. M 3. 

Here is Mr. Yates’s own story, condensed from his Recollections : 

Dickens had taken the chair at the dinner to Thackeray in ’55, and 
had alluded to the “ treasures of wit and wisdom within the yellow 
covers ” : Thackeray, in his lectures 44 Weekday Preachers,” 
declared that he thought Dickens was specially commissioned by 
Divine Benevolence to delight mankind. But Dickens read little, 
and thought less, of Thackeray’s later work ; and once, when I was- 
speaking of the ruthless strictures of the Saturday Review on Little 
Dorrit , Thackeray, agreeing with me in the main, added, with that 
strange, half-humorous, half-serious look, 4 4 though, between our- 
selves, my dear Yates, Little D. is Deed stupid.” 

Of course, Thackeray knew perfectly well that Dickens was 
advising me in all my movements in this matter, that he had publicly 
espoused my cause at the general meeting, and had repugned his seat 
on the committee on account of my treatment by that body ; but 
the subject was never discussed in any way between the two men 
until late in the autumn of this same year [1858]. 

In November, Dickens, returning to town after an absence of 
some months, heard from me that the writ in my action was about 
to be served. He expressed to me, I dare say for the fiftieth time, 
his conviction that the Garrick Club Committee had no right to 
interfere in tho matter, but at the same time reiterated his recom- 
mendation that it should be accommodated without legal proceedings 
and without public scandal. Upon this, two letters passed between 
him and Thackeray. I asked Dickens for these letters, and his 
reply was : 44 As the receiver of my letter did not respect the con- 
fidence in which it addressed him, there can be none left for you to 
violate. I send you what I wrote to Thackeray and what he wrote 
to me, and you are at perfect liberty to print the two. I arn, of 
course, your authority for doing so.” 

44 Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, 
London, W.C., 

Wednesday, November 24, 1858. 

“My dear Thackeray, — Without a word of prelude, I wish this 
note to revert to a subject on which I said six words to you at the 



184 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Athenaeum when I last saw you. . . . Can any conference be held be- 
tween me, as representing Mr. Yates, and an appointed friend of 
yours, as representing you, with the hope and purpose of some quiet 
accommodation of this deplorable matter, which will satisfy the feel- 
ings of all concerned ? — Yours faithfully, Charles Dickens.” 

“36 Onslow Square, 
November 26, 1858. 

“Dear Dickens, — Ever since I submitted my case to the Club, 
I have had, and can have, no part in the dispute. It is for them to 
judge if any reconcilement is possible with your friend. I subjoin 
the copy of a letter w hich I wrote to the Committee, and refer you 
to them for the issue. — Yours, etc., W. M. Thackeray.” 

The letter to the Committee practically repeats both Dickens’s 
note and Thackeray’s reply. 

So far as I am concerned, I never heard that the Committee took 
any steps whatever in regard to this communication. Within a few 
w r eeks the legal action w T as abandoned on my part, and the affair 
•was at an end. 

John Forster, in his Life of Charles Dickens , alludes to this matter 
as a 44 small estrangement, hardly now T worth mention, even in a 
note.” This is all very well ; but the estrangement was complete 
and continuous, and Dickens and Thackeray never exchanged but 
the most casual conversation afterwards. And most certainly at 
the time no one was more energetically offended with Thackeray 
than John Forster himself. I perfectly well remember his rage 
when Dickens showed him the letter of the 26th November, and how 
he burst out with “ He be damned, with his ‘ yours, etc.’ ! ” 

I had seen Dickens twice before his departure for Paris — once 
when he presided over a dinner given to Thackeray, immediately 
before his departure for America (October 11, 1855), at which, 
through the kindness of Peter Cunningham, who acted as honorary 
secretary, I managed to be present. It was a most interesting 
occasion, and Dickens, in proposing the toast of the evening, spoko 
with much eloquence. Thackeray, too, was plainly moved, ho much 
so that his reply was very short ; he tried to pass off his emotion 
with some joke about the coming voyage and the steward, but it 
was too much for him. Dickens left early, and Jerrold was voted 
to the chair ; whence he made a speech, proposing the health of 
Shirley Brooks, as the 44 most rising journalist of the day.” Brooks 
at that time had but recently joined the Punch staff. — Y. 

Mr. J. Cordy Jeaffreson refers to the famous quarrel as follow's : 

” To me the affair was nothing more than 4 Thackeray’s squabble 
with Yates about the article in Town Talk,' when I happened to 
come upon the author of Vanity Fair , as he was sitting alone in 
the dining-room of No. 16 Wimpole Street, waiting to bo admitted 
to Henry (nowadays Sir Henry) Thompson’s consulting-room. 

44 * Ah, young ’un/ said the great man, greeting me with a beaming 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


185 


smile, as I entered the room, ‘ I am glad you have come to bear me 
company.’ 

“ Passing abruptly to a very different subject, he startled me by 
saying — 

44 4 What do people say, youngster, about my row with Yates ? ’ 
Possibly because he saw in my face an indisposition to speak frankly 
on the delicate matter, lie followed up the question quickly. 4 Come, 
tell me what you hear.’ 

44 On being thus pressed to play the part of a reporter, I replied — 

44 4 You do not need to bo told what your enemies and detractors 
say. Nor can there be any need for me to tell you what is being 
said of you by your extravagant partisans, who, though they 
applaud whatever you do, are scarcely to be called your friends. 
Your judicious admirers — all the people whose opinion on the matter 
is worth a rush, the people whose view' of the affair w'ill be every- 
body’s judgment jive-and- twenty-years hence — unite in saying 
you have made a prodigious mistake, and are forgetful of your 
dignity in showing so much annoyance at a few saucy words, and 
in condescending to quarrel w ith so young and unimportant a person 
as Mr. Yates.’ 

“ The immediate consequence of these words w’as that Thackeray, 
flushing with surprise and irritation, exclaimed, 4 Confound your 
impudence, youngster.’ 

44 Rising to my feet at this outbreak of petulance, I looked steadily 
into my companion’s face, before I answered slowly - 

44 4 Pardon me, Mr. Thackeray, for not flattering you with an 
untruth, when you pressed me to give you information.’ 

44 Doubtless these words w ere spoken with a slight show of com- 
bat iveness ; for tho youngster did not like being 4 confounded for 
his impudence.’ But I am sure they were not spoken in an offensive 
tone. 

“ 4 You were quite right,’ returned Thackeray, 4 and it is for me 
to beg your pardon. You were right to tell me the truth, and I 
thank you for telling it. Since Vanity Fair people have been 
less quick to tell mo the truth than they were before the book made 

me successful. But — but ’ As he said 4 but — but,’ he rose 

from his seat to his full height, and looked down upon me with a 
face coloured with emotion. 4 But — but/ he continued, 4 you 
may not think, young ’un, that I am quarrelling with Mr. Yates, 
I am hitting the man behind him / 

44 Fortunately, my tcte-d-tUe with the great man was ended at 
that moment by Henry Thompson’s appearance in tho room. 

44 Though I never had any personal intercourse with Charles 
Dickens (albeit ho wrote me two or three letters in 1858, and was 
so good as to give me a general invitation to visit him at Gad’s 
Hill), I am not without grounds for holding a strong opinion that 
his action in the Yates-Thackeray quarrel proceeded in no degree 
from jealousy of Thackeray, that he never was jealous of Thackeray, 
that he never regarded himself as a competitor with Thackeray 
for literary pre-eminence, and that, from the dawn of Thackeray’s 



186 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


success to the hour of his death, the rivalry of the two novelists 
was a one-sided rivalry. It is certain that Thackeray was keenly 
emulous of Dickens’s literary success, and passionately desirous 
of surpassing it. There were times when this desire affected him 
so vehemently that he may be said to have suffered from Dickens- 
on-the-brain. He was enduring an acute visitation of the malady, 
when he went into Chapman & Hall’s place of business, and begged 
to be told what was the average monthly sale of Dickens’s then 
current story. On being shown the account of the monthly sales, 
i)e exclaimed, in a tone of mingle l surprise and mortification, 
4 What ! — so far ahead of me as all that ! ’ 

44 As his green leaves had a far larger circulation than Thackeray’s 
yellow covers ; as ten persons went to his 4 readings ’ for every 
individual who paid to hear Thackeray lecture ; as his works 
were no less generally read than Thackeray’s books by the very 
classes who are said to have preferred the author of Vanity Fair 
to the author of David CopjicrjUld ; as ids professional position 
was strengthened by his possession of a singularly successful weekly 
periodical, whilst Thackeray never possessed any important periodi- 
cal ; as his average yearly earnings must have been three times 
as great as Thackeray's average yearly earnings ; as his financial 
prosperity was never diminishc l or checked by Thackeray’s success ; 
as he was read and applauded by the whole nation, whilst Thackeray 
had no strong hold on the public outside the lines of 4 Society,’ 
and was not universally admired by that small proportion of the 
English people — one fails to see why Dickens should have been 
jealous of Thackeray, or have regarded him as a competitor who 
was running him close, and might possibly get before him. Cer- 
tainly Dickens was not jealous of bis literary address and peculiar 
ability; for, though he recognised the greatness of his genius 
and admired Vanity Fair , Pend (tin it, and The Keuxornes , he rated 
them none too highly, and saw little to commend in Thackeray’s 
subsequent writings. Mr. Yates, who knew Dickens intimately 
and studied him shrewdly, tells us in his autobiography that 4 Dickens 
read little and thought iessof Thackeray’s later work,’ — an announce- 
ment tlnat may cause readers to remark, 4 So much the worse for 
Dickens ! ’ 

44 Jealousy does not appear to have been one of Dickens’s failings. 
He had quite as much reason to be jealous of Sir Edward Bulwer- 
Lytton (Lord Lytton) and of Wilkie Collins, when they were in the 
fulness of their powers and popularity, as he had to be jealous of 
Thackeray ; but he lived in friendliness with them, and invited 
them to write for him.” — J 2. 

From what I have said of Thackeray’s desire to surpass Dickens, 
readers may not infer that it was a passion either mean in itself 
or likely to degenerate into envy and hatred of the more popular 
novelist. An essentially and uniformly generous passion, it was 
attended with a cordial recognition of the genius of Charles Dickens, 
and with enthusiastic admiration of his finer artistic achievements. 
Though he often spoke to me of Dickens and his literary doings, 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


187 


I never heard him utter a word in disparagement of the writer 
whom he laboured to outshine. I do not mean to imply that he 
admired everything that came from Dickens’s pen, or that he 
was never heard to express dissatisfaction with a work by Dickens. 
I only wish to imply that I cannot conceive him to have ever spoken 
a word in censure of anything written by Dickens that could be 
fairly attributed to the malice of jealousy. In remarking to Mr. 
Yates that “ Little D. was Deed stupid,” Thackeray said no more 
in dispraise of Little Dorrit than he said in dispraise of his ow r n 
Virginians , w hen he spoke of it to Motley as a “ devilish stupid ” 
book. He repeatedly avowed to me his desire to be thought 
a greater novelist than Dickens, but in doing so he always displayed 
a passionate admiration of the writer whom he was striving to 
precede. On one occasion, after descanting on the excellences 
of the new number of Dickens’s then current book, he brought his 
list down upon the table with a thump as he exclaimed, “ What 
is the use of my trying to run before that, man, or by his side ? I 
can’t touch him — 1 can’t get near him.” 

My whilom friend, George Hodder, in his Memories of my Time , 
gives a similar example of Thackeray's enthusiastic admiration of 
the novelist whom he desired to surpass. 

“ Putting No. 5 of Domhey and Son in his pocket,” Hodder says 
of Thackeray, “he hastened down to Mr. Punch’s printing-office, 
and entering the editor's room, where I chanced to be the only 
person present except Mr. Mark Lemon himself, he dashed it on 
the table with startling vehemence, and exclaimed, ‘ There's no 
writing against such power as this — one has no chance. Read that 
chapter describing young Paul's death ; it is unsurpassed — it is 
stupendous ! ’ ” 

On another occasion he said to me with mingled sadness and 
magnanimity, that seemed to me to be both noble and pathetic. “ I 
am played out. All l can do now is to bring out my old puppets, 
and put new' bits of riband upon them. But, if lie live to be ninety, 
Dickens will still be creating new characters. In his art that man 
is marvellous.” 

I know him to have spoken to other persons in the same strain 
and almost in the same words about tho novelist whom be admired 
so greatly . — J 2. 

The death of Thackeray, December 24, 1863, caused universal 
distress. Tho day of his burial at Kensal Green cemetery 
(December 30) was beautiful, and a large throng surrounded his 
grave. . . . Nearly every literary man in London was present. 
1 particularly remarked the emotion of Charles Dickens. 

After the funeral I walked away with Robert Browning, and w^e 
were presently joined by Dickens, to whom the poet introduced 
me. Dickons warmly admired Brow ning, and I was told he once 
said to a friend that he would rather have written “ Colombo’s 
Birthday ” than any of his novels. As my road lay in another 
direction, I mounted an omnibus and sat beside the driver, who 
inquired if Charles Dickens had been at the funeral, adding, “ I 



188 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


would just like to see that man.” When I told him Dickens had 
passed on ahead he lashed his horses, but Dickens had disappeared, 
and Browning was with Tom Taylor. But the driver was partly 
consoled by seeing the author of his favourite play, The Ticket-of - 
Leave Man. 

Dickens was a wonder. The more I saw of L6ndon the more 
I loved and honoured the London Dante who had invested it with 
romance, and peopled its streets and alleys with spirits, so that 
the huge city could never more be seen without his types and shadows. 
He had his limitations, no doubt ; had be been born in France, 
where genius i3 free to deal with every side of human life, Dickens 
might have been greater. To me he remained the chief marvel 
of his time. I felt some satisfaction in tolling him that Oliver 
Twist, Little Nell, and other children of his had been far back in the 
forties our beloved friends in a Virginian village of which he had 
never heard ; that I had myself lost my position as a model school- 
boy and been Hogged for jumping out of the school window and 
playing truant in order to see him alight from the stage-coach in 
Fredericksburg ; and that his description of the fearful roads 
by which he journeyed thither hastened the building of a railway. — 
Moncure D. Conway. C 3. 

The estrangement between Dickens and Thackeray, rising out 
of the Garrick battle, ended in the hall of the Athenaeum, where Sir 
Theodore Martin was the witness of his going after Dickens when he 
had passed him one day, and saying at the foot of the stairs some 
words to the effect that he could not bear to be on any but the old 
terms. He insisted on shaking hands ; and Dickens did. “ The 
next time I saw Dickens ” (it was not long after), Sir Theodore 
writes to me, “ he was looking down into the grave of his great 
rival, in Kensal Green. How he must have rejoiced, I thought, 
that they had so shaken hands.” Sir Theodore, whose bond with 
him was nothing if not literary, thought Thackeray curiously free 
from literary jealousy ; and certainly nothing bears this out more 
entirely than his casual remarks on Dickens in the Brookfield letters, 
such as “ Get David Copperfield ; by Jingo, it’s beautiful ; it beats 
the yellow chap of this month” ( Pendennis ) “hollow.” Or this, 
which illustrates at the same time his careful spirit of criticism and 
proper estimate of his own work : 

“ Have you read Dickens ? Oh ! it is charming. [Brave Dickens ! 
It has some of his very prettiest touches — those inimitable Dickens’s 
touches which make such a great man of him ; and the reading of 
the book has done another author a great deal of good. In the 
first place, it pleases the other author to see that Dickens, who has 
long left off alluding to the O.A.’s works, has been copying the 
O.A., and greatly simplifying his style, and overcoming the use of 
fine words. By this the public will be the gainer, and David Copper- 
field will be improved by taking a lesson from Vanity Fair . — 
Herman Merivale. M 3. 

Mark Lemon told me the story about Edmund Yates, Thackeray, 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


189 


Dickens, and the Garrick Club, and 1 was sorry for everyone mixed 
up in that affair, especially for Thackeray, who, I rather fancy, was 
not absolutely satisfied with the line he had taken, although he 
could not subsequently retract. Tantaene coelestibus irae! My 
notion of it, in my Gospel “ according to Mark,” is that Edmund 
Yates was wrong to begin with, that Thackeray was wrong to go on 
with, and that Charles Dickens acted impulsively and rather more 
hastily than he would otherwise have done, had it been against 
anyone except Thackeray. To paraphrase Mr. Mantalini’s summing 
up, “ None were right and all were wrong, upon my life and soul, 

0 demrnit ! - Sir Francis Burnand. B 3. 

Paxton (afterwards Sir Joseph Paxton, once head gardener of 
Chatsworth) became intimate with a group of literary men, including 
Dickens, Mark Lemon, and Douglas Jerrold, and joined in starting 
the Daily News . The Duke consequently struck up a friendship 
with them, and at one time saw a good deal of them. This resulted 
in a play written bv Douglas Jerrold being acted by these authors 
at Devonshire House. 

I once missed meeting Dickens at Chatsworth, who left on the 
day of my arrival. Thackeray came that same afternoon, and was 
anxious to hear about Dickens’s visit. He wondered wdiether he 
had toadied the Duke very much. My impression is that, though 
professing to be friends, these two great novelists did not care much 
for one another. I once met Dickens at a large dinner at Mr. 
Motley’s (the American Minister and historian), but did not get 
introduced to him. Thackeray I often met, both in society and 
at the Cosmopolitan Club, and it was always with great pleasure, 
for, besides be ing an admirable writer, be w T as a brilliant conversa- 
tionalist. If i were asked which of these two novelists I preferred 

1 should consider it a difficult question to answer, their merits being 
so distinct. But if pressed I should perhaps say that Dickens is 
the most humorous, but that Thackeray gives us a truer representa- 
tion of life. — Hon, F. Leveson-Gower. G. 

THE AUTHOR OF “ RAB AND IUS FRIENDS.” 

As is well known the author of Rab and His Friends was an 
enthusiastic admirer of Thackeray, but he did not relish the writings 
of Dickens. In early life l)r. Brown spent a year as an assistant 
surgeon at Chatham. Long after he met Charles Dickens for the 
first and only time. The conversation turned on nationalities, and 
Dickens said that he had been cured of any cockney prejudice 
against Scotsmen which he might have had by the heroic conduct 
of a young Scotch surgeon which he had witnessed at Chatham 
during the cholera time. Strange to say this young surgeon w as 
none other than the friend to whom he was telling the story. — 
Literary Anecdotes of the Nineteenth Century . 

DOUGLAS JERROLD. 

The glimpses we get of Jerrold at home and among his friends 
almost all exhibit him in an amiable light. His son describes an 




190 


DICKENS BEADING ' * THE CHIMES ” AT 58 LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS, MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1844 
From the drauiny by Daniel 31 a elite, II. A. 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


191 


afternoon in the garden of West Lodge, Putney, when grave editors 
and contributors, after basting one another with knotted hand- 
kerchiefs, wound up the afternoon’s play by romping and turning 
heels over head among the haycocks in the orchard. And on 
another occasion, after a dinner-party in the garden tent, all the 
guests, including Dickens, Maclise, Macready, and John Forster, 
indulged in a most hilarious game at leap-frog. — F 8. 

“Of his generosity 1 had a proof within these two or three years, 
which it saddens me to think of now. There had been an estrange- 
ment between us - not on any personal subject, and not involving 
an angry word — and a good many months had passed without my 
even seeing him in the street, when it fell out that we dined each 
with his own separate party, in the ‘ Stranger's Room ’ of a club. 
Our chairs were almost back to back, and I took mine after he was 
seated and at dinner. 1 said not a word (I am sorry to remember), 
and did not look that way. Before we had sat so long, he openly 
wheeled his chair round, stretched out both his hands in a most 
engaging manner, and said aloud, with a bright and loving face 
that I can see as 1 write to you, * For God’s sake, let us be friends 
again ! A life’s not long enough for this.’ ” 1 am grateful to Mr. 

Dickens for this frank and tender revelation. It is a powerful 
answer to the writers who have perseveringly endeavoured to present 
the subject of this memoir to the world as a bitter cynic. — J 3. 

On the morning of the funeral of Douglas Jerrold I had a letter 
from Dickens, asking me to dine at the Garrick, as he wanted to 
talk to me on a matter of business. I went, and found Albert and 
Arthur Smith of the party. They had all been to the ceremony at 
Norwood in the morning, and Dickens spoke very strongly of the 
fuss and flourish with which it had been conducted. The mourners, 
it seemed, wore bands of crape with the initials “ D. J.” round their 
arms, and there was a funeral-car, of which Dickens declared he 
heard one old w oman in the crowd say to another that it was “ just 
like the late Dook o’ Wellington’s.” After dinner we had pens, 
ink, and paper, and Dickens unfolded his scheme, which w r as to 
raise a fund for the benefit of Jerrold's widow' and family. 

It was to be done in the most delicate manner, and all w r ould 
assist. Thackeray would lecture, so would W. li. Russell ; Dickens 
would give a reading ; there would he a performance of Black-eyed 
Busan at the Adelphi, with the veteran T. P. Cooke in his original 
character ; a performance of t he Dickens troupe of amateurs in 
The Frozen Deep , etc. One great point was to let the public know 
what was intended instantly, whilst Jerrold’s death was fresh in 
their minds ; another, not to spend too much money in advertising. 
With the view of combining those desiderata , Dickens drew up a 
short memorandum for the committee, which he asked me to take 
round that night to the editors of the principal journals, requesting 
them to publish it in the morning, with a few T introductory lines of 
their own. The programme was carried out, in its entirety, with 
great success, the sum raised being, I think, over tv r o thousand 
pounds. — 7. 



192 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


THOMAS HOOD. 

“ Devonshire Lodge, New Finchley Road, 
St. John’s Wood, 

Monday [? May 1844]. 

“ My dear Dickens, — I cannot say how delighted I was to learn 
from my friend Ward that you had promised me a little ‘ bit o’ 
writin’ ’ to help mo to launch afloat again. It has been a cruel 
business, and I really wanted help in it, or I should not have an- 
nounced it, knowing how much you have to do. I am certainly a 

lucky man and an unlucky man too— for S is far better than 

the promise of . 

“ By the bye, I have heard one or two persons doubt the reality 
of a Pecksniff — or the possibility — but I have lately met two 

samples of the breed. is most decidedly a Pecksniffian ; as 

Ward says, he is so 4 confoundedly virtuous — Yours very truly, 

“Thos. Hood.’* 

The literary help mentioned above was promptly afforded by 
Mr. Dickens, in spite of his own multifarious engagements. It 
consisted of a “ Threatening Letter to Thomas Hood, from an 
elderly gentleman, by the favour of Charles Dickens, Esq.” About 
this time Tom Thumb was the rage in London, and at Windsor, 
and the letter was a clever satire on the folly of this childish admira- 
tion of “ the abridgement of all that is pleasant in man.” 

(In a letter from the same address, but dated simply “ Tuesday,” 
Hood remarks on the above “ Letter ” : “ Your paper is capital. 
I had been revolted myself by the royal running after the American 
mite, and the small-mindedness of being so fond of an unmagnified 
man or child. I cannot understand the wisli to see a dwarf twice.'') — 
Memorials of Thomas Hood , by his son and daughter. 

MARK LEMON. 

A serious quarrel broke out between Dickens and the Punch men, 
publishers and editor alike — a quarrel wholly on Dickens’s side. 
So great had been his intimacy and his influence that he could 
cause the insertion of a cartoon and even bring about the alteration 
of the Dinner day. But now, on the unhappy differences between 
himself and his wife, trouble arose between old friends. Mark Lemon 
had naturally leaned towards the wife, from chivalry and sense of 
right, and the publishers preferred to take no share in a quarrel 
in which they certainly had no concern. On May 28, 1859, the 
whole of the back page of Punch was given to an advertisement 
of Once a Week , which was to follow Household Words , and to an 
explanation of the position of affairs between “ Mr. Charles Dickens 
and his late publishers.” ... So this foolish estrangement went on 
until, years afterwards, Clarkson Stanfield on his death -bed besought 
Dickens to resume his friendship with the man with whom, after 
all, he had had no cause of quarrel. So Dickens sent to Lemon 
(whom h£ doubtless suspected of having written the publishers* 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


193 


damaging defence just quoted) a kindly letter when “ Uncle Mark ” 
appeared as Falstaff before the public, and when Stanfield was 
buried the two men clasped hands over his open grave ; and, later 
on, when Dickens died, some of the most touching and beautiful 
verses which ever appeared in Punch were devoted to his memory. — 
S 3. 

On March 20, 1849, at the Marylebone Police Court, to quote 
the faithful record of The Times of the following day : “ Mr. 
Charles Dickens (‘ Boz ’) and Mr. Mark Lemon attended at this court 
— the latter for the purpose of preferring a charge of attempted 
robbery against Cornelius Heame, age nineteen, and the former as a 
witness in the case. 

“ Mr. Lemon, on being sworn, said, last evening, about nine 
o’clock, as I was walking with my friend Mr. Dickens along the Edg- 
ware Road, I felt a hand in my coat pocket, and on turning round 
saw the prisoner draw his hand therefrom. I gave him a rap with 
my stick, when he abused me and ran away. I and Mr. Dickens ran 
after him, and he was shortly afterwards taken. He was extremely 
violent, and he kicked me very severely on the knee. 

“ Mr. Broughton : Did you miss anything from your pocket ? 

“ Mr. Lemon : I did not, sir. 

“ Mr. Charles Dickens : I w r as with Mr. Lemon, and saw him turn 
suddenly round upon the prisoner, who speedily ran away. We 
pursued him, and w hen he was taken he was most violent : he is 
a very desperate fellow, and he kicked about in all directions. 
There was a mob of low fellows close by when he tried Mr. Lemon’s 
pocket, and wo w^erc determined that he should not effect his escape 
if we could prevent it. 

“ Police -Constable 229 D : I was on duty last night in plain clothes, 
and saw the prisoner running, with two gentlemen in pursuit of 
him, and he was at length captured. 

“ Becklcy, another officer of the D Division, deposed to his having 
known the prisoner for years as a reputed thief. He had been tried, 
and also summarily convicted at this and other police courts. 

“ Prisoner : I was walking along quietly w hen the gentlemen 
suddenly stopped, and I came against one of them ; they turned round 
and struck me, and I said, ‘ What do you do that for ? * when they 
laid into me again. I got away, and they called * Stop thief.’ 

“ Mr. Dickens : When at the station I said I thought I knew the 
prisoner, and that I had seen him at the House of Correction. 

“ Prisoner : Now, your Worship, ho must have been in quod 
there himself, or ho couldn’t have seen me. I know these two gentle- 
men well ; they’re no better than sw ell mob-mon, and get their 
living by buying stolen goods. (Laughter.) That one (pointing to 
Mr. Dickons) keeps a 4 fence,’ and I recollect him at the prison, where 
he was put in for six months, while I was only there for two. 

“ Both the literary gentlemen seemed to enjoy amazingly the 
honour which the prisoner had with such unblushing effrontery 
conferred upon them, but, as may be readily imagined, neither of 
them confessed to having any connection whatever with that 

7 



194 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


‘ highly respectable ’ body, the swell mob, or to obtaining a liveli- 
hood by dealing in stolen goods. Mr. Broughton, after remarking 
upon the consummate impudence of the prisoner, committed him to 
hard labour in the House of Correction for three months.” 

This inexpert young thief, with his talent for imaginative abuse, 
might almost have stepped out of the pages of Oliver Twist , — A 
correspondent in the Yorkshire Post y April 13, 1909. 

JOHN LEECII. 

Leech, it seemed, could be as humorous as he pleased, and as 
whimsical. . . . He made merciless fun of sea-sickness . . . one 
would almost be led to believe that Leech shared the immunity of 
the robust scoffers whom one usually sees behind a big cigar on 
board the yacht or steamboat. Yet when he crossed to Boulogne on 
a visit to Dickens, and was received with uproarious applause from 
what Americans call the u side-walk committee,” by reason of his 
superior greenness and more abject misery, he was quite pleased, 
and said with the utmost gratification that lie felt he had made a 
great hit. His companionship with Dickens was frequent ; and 
when, in 1848, he was overthrown by a wave w’hile bathing at Bon- 
church, and received a slight concussion of the brain, the novelist 
rendered him the greatest medical service . — S 3. 

Soon after the death of John Leech, I communicated to Charles 
Dickens a wish wdiich had been expressed by some mutual friends, 
that I should write a biography of the artist, and I received the 
following reply : 


“ Gad’s Hill, Higham, by Rochester, Kent, 
Tuesday , December 20, 18G4. 

“ My dear Sir, — I am very much interested in your letter, for 
the love of our departed friend, for the promise it holds out of a 
good record of his life and work, and for the remembrance of a very 
pathetic voice, which I heard at his grave. 

“ There is not in my possession one single note of his writing. 
A year or two ago, shocked by the misuse of the private letters of 
public men, which I constantly observed, I destroyed a very large 
and very rare mass of correspondence. It was not done without 
pain, you may believe, but, the first reluctance conquered, I have 
steadily abided by my determination to keep no letters by me, and to 
consign all such papers to the fire. I therefore fear that I can 
render you no help at all. All that I could tell you of Leech you 
know, even (probably) to the circumstance that for several years 
we always went to the seaside together in the autumn, and lived, 
through the autumn months, in constant daily association. 

“ Your reference to my books is truly gratifying to me, and I 
hope this sad occasion may be the means of bringing us into personal 
relationship, which may not lessen your pleasure in them. — Believo 
me, dear sir, very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens.” 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


195 


His kind wish was followed by more definite invitations to his 
house in London and to Gad’s Hill, and I Jost no time in availing 
myself of the privilege which he proposed. John Leech was, of 
course, the chief subject of our conversation. Dickens loved the 
man as much as he admired the artist. He was one of many who 
maintained that Leech should have been a Royal Academician, 
seeing that his works would outlive a very large proportion of those 
which were exhibited at Burlington House. He said very much 
the same which Mr. Forster reports in his life : that Leech was the 
first artist who had combined beauty with humorous art . — H 3. 

DANIEL MACLISE. 

In 1847, Charles Dickens having gone to Paris, Maclise had arranged 
to join him there with their common friend, John Forster ; but 
his heavy engagements forbade the execution of this pleasant 
project, and he wrote to the latter a metrical farewell, which happily 
illustrates his gay and sportive humour — 

“Go where pleasure waits thee, 

But while it elates thee, 

Oh ! remember m& 

When by the Seine thou rovest, 

With the friend thou lovest, 

Oh ! still remember me. 

When through tho Louvre gazing 
On those works amazing, 

(Especially) the n remember me. 

When Dumas thou meetest, 

And Jules Janin thou greetest. 

Even then remember me. 

If Sue or Victor Hugo, 

George Sand, or Kock, to you go. 

Still, still remember me. 

If Horaco Paul or Ary 
You meet, oh ! still be wary ; 

Forget not Mac — and me. 

In P- re la Chaise while walking, 

O’er Montmartre while stalking. 

Be sure remember me. 

While you hear the Peers debating, 

While you hear the Commons prating. 

Even then remember me. 

On top of Vendome column, 

On July’s pillar solemn, 

Even then remember me. 



196 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


On Notre-Dame’s high towers, 

Versailles and Saint Cloud's lowers. 

Still, still remember me. 

When with Dickens thou art dining. 

Think of him at fourteen pining, 

Oh ! do then think of mo. 

When with him Lafitte <1 linking. 

Let not your spirits sinking, 

On Lincoln’s Inn then thinking, 

A tear bedew your e'e. 

Be not such foolish asses, 

But while the bottle passes, 

Fill, fill your sparkling glasses, 

And then remember me.” 

— The Mortise Portrait Gall try. 

Mr. Maclise often told how that he, John Forster, and Charles 
Dickens used to meet at Jack Straw’s Castle, Hampstead Heath, 
and there Dickens would read to them that which he had written 
during the week ; and this done, the rest of the time would be passed 
in a pleasant commingling of good cheer and genial criticism. “ But 
this,” the great artist would add, “ was in the good old days gone 
by, when we were all young, and had the world before us.” — // 4. 

ROBERT BROWNING. 

Residence in Camberwell, in 1833, rendered night engagements 
often impracticable ; but nevertheless he ( Browning) managed to 
mix a good deal in congenial society. It is not commonly known 
that he was familiar to these early associates as a musician and 
artist rather than as a poet. Among them, and they comprised 
many well-known workers in the several arts, were Charles Dickens 
and “ Ion ” Talfourd. — S 6. 

The publication of “ Paracelsus ” did not gain for Browning 
a large audience, but it brought him friends and acquaintances, 
who gave his life a delightful expansion in its social relations. 
John Forster, the critic, biographer and historian, then unknown 
to him, reviewed the poem in the Examiner with full recognition 
of its power and promise. Browning gratefully commemorated 
a lifelong friendship with Forster, nearly a score of years later, in 
the dedication of the 1863 edition of his poetical works. Mrs. 
Orr recites the names of Carlyle, Talfourd, R. Hengist Horne, 
Leigh Hunt, Procter, Monckton Milnes, Dickens, Wordsworth, 
Landor, among those of distinguished persons who became known 
to Browning at this period. — Edward Dowden, in Robert Broiming. 

This tragedy of young love and death [“ A Blot in the ’Scutcheon 
was written hastily — in four or five days — for Macready. . . , 
Forster read the tragedy aloud from the manuscript for Dickens, 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


197 


who wrote of it with unmeasured enthusiasm in a letter, known to 
Browning only when printed after the lapse of some thirty years : 
“ Browning’s play has thrown me into a perfect passion of sorrow. 
... I know no love like it, no passion like it, no moulding of a 
splendid thing after its conception like it.” — Ibid . 

It is with diffidence I take so radically distinct a standpoint 
froip that of Dickens, who declared he knew no love like that of 
Mildred and Mertoun, no passion like it, no moulding of a splendid 
thing after its conception, like it ; who, further, at a later date, 
affirmed that he would rather have written this play than any work 
of modern times . — S 0. 

MARTIN TUPPER. 

He [Tupper’s agent on his reading tours] has told me some curious 
anecdotes about eminent artistes whom he has chaperoned. . . . 
Dickens, though with crowded audiences, was not liked, nor nearly 

so good as Mr. expected : he earned about with him a sort 

of show-box, set round with lights and covered with purple cloth, 
in tho midst of which he appeared in full evening costume with 
bouquet in buttonhole, and, as Mr. said, “ very stiff.” 

Dickens I have met several times, and he gave me good hints 
on my first American visit ; a man full of impulsive kindliness and 
sincerely one’s friend. His son Charles also I have occasionally 
met, the worthy successor to his illustrious father : I may here 
state that many of the articles and poems in Household Words are 
from the pen of my youngest daughter. — Martin Tupper, in My Life 
as an Author. 

EDWARD FITZGERALD. 

To this date [about October 1841] I assign a very interesting un- 
published letter of FitzGerald’s, which refers to a drive with Dickens 
— the only occasion, apparently, on which FitzGerald and Dickens 
ever met. It is written to Browne (H. K. Browne), and com- 
mences, “ Dear Stubby.” After remarks that need not be quoted, 
it proceeds : . . . “ I went on Thursday with Alfred (Tennyson) and 
Thackeray to drive with ‘Boz.’ He is like Elliott (Robert Elliott, 
brother of the young lady who became Browne’s wife), only rather 
on a smaller scale — unaffected and hospitable. You never would 
remark him for appearance. A certain acute cut of the upper 
eyelid is all I can find to denote his powers, but you would doubtless 
see much more than I do.” — Thomas Wright, in The Life of Edward 
FitzGerald. 

THE CARLYLES. 

Friday , 17 (1860). . . . The other day, Mrs. Carlyle, in com- 
pany with Barlow, met Dickens coming out of Burlington Arcade. 
‘‘ God bless my soul, you here 1 ” says Dickens, in such a droll way 
as has made Mrs. Carlyle laugh ever since ; such an arch face and 
tone of voice has, sharp as a needle. She asked Dickens to come 



198 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and see them ; Dickens said he would, one day next week. “ And 
bring ” — the girls, Mrs. Carlyle was going to say ; then, thinking 
that would be too formal, said, “ one of the girls.” “Yes, I’ll 
bring one of the girls ! ” responds Dickens. 

Mr. Carlyle likes Dickens personally very much, though he never 
reads his books. — Anne Gilchrist , edited by H. H. Gilchrist. 

Forster was a frequent visitor of the Carlyles, and they were 
frequent guests of his at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, always the more 
willingly on Carlyle’s part when he was to meet Dickens, for whom 
in his notes to Forster he professed a genuine affection, though in 
conversation he was given to talk contemptuously of “ Dickens 
and his squad.” — E. 

Carlyle seldom troubled himself about conventionalities. What 
he felt, that he said ; and as he felt it ; and it did not matter whether 
he sat in his own room or in a public hall. At one of Dickens’s 
readings lie has been known to burst out in irrepressible, long- 
continued, stentorian laughter that amounted almost to a con- 
vulsion ; swinging his hat in the air meanwhile. He had an 
unbounded admiration for Dickens. The most conspicuous books 
in his dining-room were a set of Dickens’s in red cloth, which had 
grown dark with constant use. All his books had the same appear- 
ance of much handling. ... I once asked him if he often read novels. 

Not often,” was the answer ; ‘‘but when I do 1 have a debauch.” 
—6’ 4. 

CHARLES WHITEHEAD. 

Between Charles Whitehead (who edited The Library of Fiction 
for Messrs. Chapman & Hall) and Dickens there was certainly some 
congeniality of tastes and sense of humour, but Whitehead drifted 
with the stream. He was the leading spirit at the old (Bohemian 
tavern, The Grotto, until his best friends could find but little place 
in his time. The balance for culture and refinement of literary 
tastes was on his side, and he hail the further advantage over 
Dickens of eight years’ seniority in ripened judgment; yet it was 
Whitehead who produced the coarser work. His Richard Savage , 
a Romance , published in 1842, after having run serially in Bentley 8 
Miscellany, was a great success ; but although it appears to be 
a brilliant historical study, it is in much only that which any life 
may once create, the story of itself so far as autobiographical feeling 
is concerned. 

Full of humour and wit, he was the heart of any company into 
w r hich he entered. But gradually his dissipations dulled his spirits ; 
at last he was moody and quarrelsome ; then, conscious of having 
misspent his best, shattered in body and mind, he emigrated to 
Melbourne in 1857. There his wife died. This much-tried wife 
did much towards keeping her wayward, and not always kind- 
tempered, husband in as much check as can be known oy those 
who will by no means put check upon themselves. 

Whitehead would at any time have been unfitted for colonial 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


199 


life, where the spirit is of youth and enterprise, and demands litera- 
ture and entertainment akin to it ; for his historical romances 
and melancholy poetry it had no place ; and meanwhile he drifted 
further. Even then, his gifts and personal traits won him one 
who would have been his true friend, one who sought no “ case,” 
who took the irresolute, broken-down Bohemian to his own home 
and care. This friend was a medical and literary citizen of Mel- 
bourne. But this chance also Whitehead abandoned, disappearing 
no one knew whither. The next scene of the pitiable, sordid drama 
was in the streets of Melbourne, where Whitehead was picked up 
in a state of exhaustion, and taken to the hospital. There he 
died. The last scene of all is a pauper s grave ; therein Charles 
Whitehead was laid in July 1862. And of him it could only be 
recorded by the local press that lie “ had been engaged on news- 
papers.” — T.P.'s Weekly , December 25, 1908. 

Perhaps there may be a few of your readers who are unaware that 
Charles Whitehead was the man “who might have written Pickwick 
“ He was olTered,” says the writer in the Dickensian , November 
1908, “ a commission to co-operate with Seymour in producing 
monthly the “ Cockney Sporting Sketches,” and declined the offer 
on the ground that he was not equal to the task of producing the 
monthly numbers with regularity. But he happened to know a 
young man who had recently written a series of sketches of London 
life, whose name was Dickens, and he recommended the young 
author for the task which he could not trust himself to undertake.” 

What resulted from this recommendation is now known through- 
out the civilised world. Those of us who have studied Dickens, 
the man, will know him too well to think he did not appreciate this 
sacrifice on the part of Whitehead, but the writer in the Dickensian 
goes on to say: “ ... The habit of intemperance had laid hold 
of him, and eventually, we are told, for that cause alone, Dickens 
was gradually compelled to cease to hold intercourse with him.” 
But if there was one man whom Dickens had in mind when he 
created Sydney Carton that man was Charles Whitehead. If it is 
right to assume a connection between Sydney Carton and Charles 
Whitehead, we ought at times to read Pickwick with a heavy 
heart, and not forget Charles Whitehead in doing so. — Geo. Stevenson, 
in T.P.'s Weekly , January 8, 1909. 

JAMES PAYN, 

It was in 1856 that I first made the personal acquaintance of 
Charles Dickens — a circumstance which to mo was an epoch in my 
existence. Like all young persons devoted to literature, I had 
had my idols. As a boy I used to have visions of untold wealth, 
with the power of laying it at the feet of this or that writer, some- 
times to be used for the amelioration of the human race (I had often 
given Thomas Carlyle a million or two, in trust, for that purpose), 
and sometimes for their benefit. Tennyson I had thus enriched 
beyond the dreams of avarice ; Browning I had made exceedingly 



200 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


comfortable ; but the chief figure in my literary Pantheon had been 
always Dickens. . . . My late friend Calverley, the C.S.C, of Poems 
and Translations and Fly Leaves , when lecturer of Christ’s College, 
issued a paper on Pickwick after the model of the usual classical 
examination papers, containing the most out-of-the-way details, 
and forming a crucial test of scholarship. 

The prizes were a “ first edition ” of Pickwick , and it will be 
interesting to many to learn that the two prizemen were Walter 
Besant and Professor Skeat. If Pickwick were to-day made a text- 
book for “ exams.” in general, the replies would no doubt be 
satisfactory, for there is now a concordance for the whole of 
Dickens ; but in 1857 there was no need of cramming, for every- 
one knew the book and quoted it. I have the vanity to believe, 
had I been qualified as a candidate, I should have gained a prize : 
at all events, I had my Dickens at my finger-ends, and the notion 
of feeling him there in the flesh — of shaking hands with him — was 
positively intoxicating. — P 4. 

GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA. 

There [at the St. James’s Theatre] I first saw, as a very young 
and eminently handsome man, Charles Dickens. His unsurpassed 
works of fiction are, I hope and believe, as widely read in these 
days as they were in 1837-8 ; but the present generation, I should 
say, can scarcely form an idea of the absolute furore of excitement 
which reigned in reading England during the time that the monthly 
parts of the novels in the green covers were in progress of publica- 
tion. We have all heard the story of the invalid whoso doctor 
gravely told him that he feared that he, the sick man, could not 
possibly survive for another month ; but who, as the physician 
was leaving the room, was heard to mutter to himself, “ Well, at 
all events, the next number of Pickwick will be out in a fortnight ; ” 
and there is another not quite so well known anecdote, related many 
years since by a writer in Blackwood, setting forth how, when he, 
the writer in question, was a schoolboy, there suddenly occurred to 
him, one Sunday in church and in the middle of a very dull sermon, 
the memory of an exceptionally comic episode in Pickwick , that 
impelled him to burst out in a prolonged and uncontrollable burst 
of laughter ; which act of irreverent hilarity led to his being at 
once, and ignominiotisly, removed by the beadle — there were beadles 
in those days — from the sacred edifice. 

Stories of this kind were as plentiful as blackberries in the early 
days of what people used to call the “ Bozomania.” Dogs and cats 
used to be named “ Sam ” and “ Jingle,” and “ Mrs. Bardell ” and 
“ Job Trotter.” A penny cigar, presumably of British make, was 
christened “ The Pickwick.” Gutter-blood publishers pirated the 
masterpiece of farcical fiction which was astonishing the English- 
speaking world ; and we had the “ Penny Pickwick ” ana the 
“ Posthumous Memoirs of the Pic-Nic Club ” in weekly numbers. 
Even the more respectable class of cheap periodicals, Olios , Parterres , 
Mirrors , and the like, were not ashamed to print extracts, sometimes 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


201 


three or four pages at a time, from each monthly part published by 
Messrs. Chapman & Hall. As for ourselves — I mean my own family 
in King Street, St. James’s, where we lived on the first floor of a 
house right opposite the theatre — my brother Albert, my sister 
Augusta, and myself, were content in the course of a couple of years 
to get the Pickwick Papers , Nicholas Nickleby 9 and Oliver Twist 
by heart. Then we used to “play at ” Dickens, and dramatise 
his novels on our own private account. Many a time have I enacted 
Bill Sikes and murdered Nancy — otherwise my sister, in the back 
bedroom. Then we set to work copying as welt as we could George 
Cruikshank’s illustrations to Oliver , and Phiz’s etchings to Pickwick 
and Nickleby ; and, unless I am mistaken, my lamented friend 
Edmund Yates had a little old scrap-book of mine full of imitations 
in pen-and-ink of the etchings aforesaid. Across one of them, an 
exceptionally vile one — but this may not be in the book I gave 
Edmund — is written in a large bold hand, “ This is not by G. A. S.” — 
S 2. 

I quarrelled with Dickens. When, fourteen years afterwards, 
he died, I wrote a notice of him in the Daily Telegraph ; and shortly 
afterwards this notice, considerably expanded, was republished by 
Messrs. George Routledge & Sons, of the Broadway, Ludgate Hill. 
It was a shilling booklet, which had an immense sale, and it is now — 
so the booksellers’ catalogues tell me — scarce, and somewhat costly. 
Now in this trifle I made a passing allusion to my misunderstanding 
with Dickens early in 1857 ; and, moved by, I hope, a not ungenerous 
impulse, I added that in this feud I had been in the wrong. 

I revered the writer, and I loved the man. But at a time when 
the grave had scarcely closed over him I disdained to say that he 
had been as much in tho wrong as I. A spiteful (and, of course, 
anonymous) critic in an evening paper, for which I have too much 
contempt to name it, went out of his way, while professing to review 
a work of mine entitled Things I Have Seat and People I Have Known , 
to say that Dickens was very kind to me, and that it was at his 
expense that I went to Russia. Charles Dickens was kind to many 
more youthful authors besides myself ; and he was for five years 
exceptionally kind to me, for the reason that he had known me in 
my early youth. But, confound it ! I gave him malt for his meal. 
In the course of those five years I wrote nearly three hundred articles 
for Household Words ; and I was such a dullard, so maladroit, so 
blind to my own interest, that between 1851 and my return from 
St. Petersburg, I never sought his permission to republish one of 
those papers. As to tho statement of tho spiteful critic, that I went 
to Russia at Dickens’s expense, there is in it a suppression of truth 
which is more than a suggestion of falsehood. In the last letter 
which he wrote mo before he went away, he said, “ You should have 
the means of travelling in comfort and respectability.” I drew a 
certain sum to defray my expenses to St. Petersburg ; and there I 
found, at Messrs. Stieglitz’, a monthly credit of forty pounds. In 
all, between April and November, I received tho sum of two hundred 
and forty pounds, eight-tenths of wliich I spent in subsistence and 



202 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


travelling outlay ; and I landed in England, as I have said, with 
two pounds in my pocket. It logically follows that if I went to 
Russia at Dickens’s expense I 'wrote the Journey Due North entirely 
on my own. 

Where I was to blame in the matter was as follows: About 
half a dozen papers remained to be written to complete the plan of 
my Journey. I was dissatisfied with what I considered to be the 
ungenerous treatment which I had received. I found that I could 
earn at least ten pounds a week by working for Henry Vizetelty, 
and the delivery of the last half-dozen chapters of the Journey hung 
fire. Then came a coolness between myself and Mr. Wills (nominally 
sub-editor, but practically editor of Household Words), and then an 
open rupture. I demanded payment for my travelling expenses ; 
and I was referred to one Mr. Smith, a solicitor, in Golden Square, 
who informed me that I had received the sum of two hundred and 
forty pounds, as aforesaid, as full remuneration for my services ; 
that I owed the proprietors of Household Words nothing, and that 
they owed me nothing. But now I come to the cruellest part of 
the business. I asked Dickens’s permission to republish the 
Journey Due North and the other essays which I had contributed 
to Household Words. That permission — although he had already 
advised me to haste and republish — he positively refused to grant. 
So away into the darkest of nonentities went the two hundred 
and fifty pounds w hich Messrs. Routledge, Warne, & Routledge w ere 
to pay me. 

It appeared that, as the law’ of copyright then stood, I had abso- 
lutely no remedy. ... I might, perhaps, have fought the matter, 
since Dickens knew perfectly well that I was in treaty with Rout- 
ledge, Warne, & Routledge. But I was indignant and mortified to 
the stage of disgust ; and so gave the whole thing up. . , . Time 
hath its revenges, and mine came, in the matter of the Journey Due 
North , and my other embargoed articles in Household Words , swiftly 
and comically enough. Perhaps I err in calling it a revenge at all ; 
for I never w r as vindictive ; I loved and admired Dickens with all 
my heart ; and at this distance of time I feel convinced that having 
had no experience of the Special Correspondent, w r ho in 1857 was 
almost a novel personage, he failed to see that I had any claim to 
travelling expenses. I had charged him none when I repeatedly 
sent him articles from Paris, from the north of England, and from 
Ireland. Why should I be paid, so he may have reasoned, for 
travelling a couple of thousand milc3 ? . . . My reconciliation with 
Dickens was due neither to the interposition of “ mutual friends ” 
nor to the interchange of explanatory correspondence. It was 
mainly due, I should say, to a certain leading article written by me 
in the Daily Telegraph ; but what that leader was about is, at this 
time of day, absolutely of no importance. “ La vie,” writes Honor6 
de Balzac, “ est impossible sans de grands oublis.” At all events, 
Dickens took the embargo off the Journey Due North and my 
remaining papers in Household Words ; and the deadlock was at 
an end. This was in the summer of 1858 ; and I enjoyed the 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


203 


renewed friendship of Dickens and worked for him in the columns 
of All the Year Round until his death in 1870 . — S 2. 

o. A. STOREY. 

The first name that occurs to me in this recollective mood is one that 
is a household word, one that is dear to every right-minded reader 
of the English language — it is the name of Charles Dickens. Not 
only was his Cricket on the Hearth one of the first books that I became 
possessed of, but its author was the first great man whom I was 
introduced to, and this is how it happened. 

Some friend of the family had seen scribblings of mine on half- 
sheets of notepaper which were considered wonderful, both by him 
and the family. This friend, Mr. Stultz, a rich, prosperous man, 
who had made a fortune by tailoring, was building some almshouses 
in Kentish Town for the sheltering of a certain number of the 
less successful of his calling, and it was only right and proper that 
a bust of the kind founder should be put up as a memorial of his 
charity. To this end, he was sitting to Behnes, the sculptor, in 
Osnaburgh Street, and it struck him that an introduction to that 
gentleman might be a means of bringing out the latent talent of 
little Adolphus, who was then nine years old. I remember he took 
mo with him in his carriage and introduced me into the strangest 
of strange places, as it seemed to me then, a sculptor’s studio. . . . 
Mr. Behnes, the presiding genius of the place, received me very 
kindly — said I could go there whenever I liked to draw from the 
casts or make models from them. Ho gave me buns to eat, and a 
groat lump of clay, which I was to fashion into a horse’s head, or, 
if I preferred, I could turn it into the enormous toes of the Farnese 
Hercules. 

One day, as I was engaged in the latter effort, a bright, lively 
young man, good looking, and with dark flowing locks, entered the 
studio, accompanied by Behnes, and took his seat in a comfortable 
arm-chair on a revolving platform. He, too, seemed amused at 
the scene — and very much so when he caught sight of a small boy 
sit ting in front of a foot almost as big as himself, with a bun on one 
side, and a large lump of clay on the other, which he w as trying to 
thumb into shape. I was the little boy, and the lively young man 
with dark flowing locks was Charles Dickens. He came and looked 
over me, patted mo on the head, and said some kind things, but I did 
not know who he w r as till afterwards. 

The sitting over, ho took his departure, accompanied by Behnes, 
but they were no sooner gone than the men in blouses, with shades 
over their eyes, came stealthily in to see the master’s w r ork and to 
criticise the clay features and the clay curls of the great novelist. 
And then they came up to me and asked mo all about him and wiiat he 
had talked about, and said, “ Don’t you know who he is ? ” And 
then they told me that he was the author of Pickwick , and Nicholas 
NicUehy , and Oliver Twist , and Sketches by Boz , and Master Humph- 
rey's Clock , etc. ; and I was delighted, for I had copied the portrait 
of Mr. Pickwick, and Mr. Weller with his pipe, and Bam, and others. 



204 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and it was through these very copies, which had been considered 
so wonderful, that I found myself in Behnes’ studio, beginning 
almost in play an art career, which I had no idea then would have 
developed into a reality. 

Although I cannot remember what Charles Dickens said to me, 
I can remember that during the sitting he was very animated and 
talkative, and spoke of an accident he had been in, and that a wheel 
was within two inches of his head as he lay on the ground, but 
that he escaped uninjured. 

Here, then, was the bust in embryo of Charles Dickens, for it 
was all lumps and finger holes ; and just behind it was the bust of 
Mr. Stultz. . . . And where are the other busts I have mentioned ? 
Does anyone know anything about the one of Dickens ? — S 5. 

MRS. TROLLOPE. 

In the March of 1838 Mrs. Trollope for the first time met Charles 
Dickens, for whose genius she always had a high admiration. In 
the letter mentioning this circumstance, she uses a phrase which 
shows how Pickivick had already furnished many words and sayings 
that had entered into our common parlance. 

“Cecilia, Irene, and I passed the soiree (I don’t mean that we 
passed by, or in any way neglected, a leg of mutton !) on Thursday 
with Mrs. Bartley, where we met ‘ Bo/.,’ who desired to be presented 
to me. I had a good deal of talk with him. He is extremely lively 
and intelligent, has the appearance of being very young, and although 
called excessively shy, seemed not at all averse from conversation.” 

Perhaps I may be forgiven for suggesting that he found her also 
“ lively and intelligent”; and that nothing so readily overcomes 
shyness, as the sense that your interlocutor is a genuine person, 
speaking sincerely the thought that is in him. The least suspicion 
of humbug, or of a sneer, makes shyness retire into itself and stay 
there. — Frances Eleanor Trollope, in Frances Trollope. 

SAMUEL CARTER HALL. 

I first knew Charles Dickens in the year 182(3, when no “ shadow 
before ” had heralded the “ coining ” of fame. It seems but 
yesterday — though it is more than half a century ago- since I first 
saw him, then a handsome lad, gleaning intelligence in the byways 
of the metropolis — taking in rapidly that he might, thereafter, 
lavishly give out. From his boyhood he had to provide for himself ; 
from the age of thirteen years it was his happy lot not to abstract 
from, but to augment, the income that supported his home. On 
both sides, his family lived by severe, though honourable toil — 
the toil of the better classes, however, for Charles Dickens was bom 
a gentleman ; and if, until an after period, he was not rich, there 
is no one of his “ kith and kin ” who cannot, to some extent, give 
the why and wherefore that it was so. He was never one who 
thought so much of his public as to neglect his private duties ; but 
his generosities were by nb means so limited : if with him charity 
began at home, assuredly it did not end there. 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


205 


Yes, it seems but yesterday, at his then residence in Doughty 
Street, we were present at the christening of his first-born child ! . . . 
His many works have delighted, and — what is of far greater moment 
— instructed, millions ; and the impress he has left on the page of 
literary history will endure for centuries to come — as long as the 
language in which his books are written : a language that is now 
read and spoken by hundreds of millions, and which probably will 
be, at no very distant period, the common tongue of the half of 
humankind. 

The death — if the term must be applied to one w r ho can never 
die — of this largely gifted and largo hearted man carried deep grief 
into every circle, not alone of the kingdom, but of the world : the 
highest and the lowest of society alike felt that they had lost a friend 
— one who not only ministered, and always rightly, to their in- 
tellectual enjoyments, but was ever the firm yet genial advocate 
of Humanity. His sympathies were mainly, but by no means 
exclusively, with the humbler classes ; he was ever on the side of 
all who suffered wrong — ever the em my of those by whom it was 
inflicted. His satire — and he was often a keen satirist — was never 
personal, either as regarded himself or the vices and follies he 
assailed : of him may be truly said what the poet said of Sheridan — 
in k ‘ the combat ” his wit 

“ Xe'er carried a heart-stain away on its blade.” 

And it is no exaggeration to apply to Charles Dickens the line that 
was applied to William Shakespeare — 

“11c was not for an age, but for all time.” — II 1. 

MISS LAURA HA IN ERISWELL. 

My father was very fond of taking me out and about with him, 
so that at a very early age l became acquainted with authors, 
publishers, and printers. On one occasion we were walking down 
Wellington Street, Strand, and just passing the ofhce of Household 
Words , when a hansom cab stopped, and out stepped a gaily 
dressed gentleman ; bis bright green waistcoat, vivid scarlet tie, 
and pale lavender trousers would have been noticed by anyone, 
but the size of the nosegay in his buttonhole riveted my attention, 
for it was a regular flower garden. My father stopped and intro- 
duced me, and I, who had only seen engravings of the Maclise 
portrait, and a very handsome head in my mother’s photograph 
album, was astonished to lind myself shaking hands with the great 
novelist, Charles Dickens. His manner was so exceedingly pleasant 
and kind to a young nobody like me that 1 was very much taken with 
him ; and I was moreover verv anxious to like the man who had 
created Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness, and Little Nell and her 
grandfather. 

When I was ill — and in those days I was very, very often laid up 
and confined to my bed — 1 used to read* or got my mother to read 
to me, The Old Curiosity Shop, My grandmother hod a first edition 



206 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


of the book, and I read it till I almost knew it by heart. I admired 
Dick Swiveller very much, disliked Sampson Brass and his sister, 
hated Quilp, pitied the Marchioness, and adored Little Nell and her 
grandfather. My father told Dickens something of this, and the 
great novelist smiled, and said, “ She is not unlike Little Nell, 
herself.” 

I felt this was the very greatest compliment anyone could pay me, 
for if there was one person I wished to resemble, it was Little Nell. 
She was such a very good girl. I felt I could never be like her, 
however much I tried. The fact was, I only thought of her when I 
was ill, and forgot my good resolutions when I was up and about ; 
I was half a mind to confess this to Mr. Dickens, but instead I looked 
up and blushed with pleasure, and he smiled very kindly as he 
again shook hands. I turned away in a great state of elation, but 
my father I am sure had not appreciated the compliment, for lie 
said one or two rather uncomplimentary things about Little Nell. 
I fancy he thought I should grow morbid, and he told me that when 
I was older and had read some of Mr. Dickens’s other novels I should 
no longer admire The Old Curiosity Shop so much — “ parts of it are 
inimitable, but Little Nell is unnatural and too sentimental,” he 
said emphatically, “ and when you are older you will see it.” This 
was of course true ; but my ardour was very much damped, and 1 
soon ceased to wish to be like Little Nell. 

The next time I .saw Dickens was about a year after, at a farewell 
dinner given to him by many of the best-known men of the day, 
on the occasion of his second visit to America. 

The hall was quite new, and might have been built for the occasion. 
The half-moons arching the twenty mural compartments contained, in 
letters of gold, the names of all Dickens’s novels, Pickwick being the 
one selected for the place of honour at the end of the room behind 
the President’s chair. Below it were the initials C. IX, surrounded 
by a wreath, and beneath that another scroll, bearing the words, 
All the Year Round . The English and American flags indicated the 
international character of the entertainment. 

The band suddenly ceased, and Charles Dickens entered, accom- 
panied by Lord Lytton, who was President ; as they passed down 
the room, followed by Sir Francis Grant, President of the Royal 
Academy, Sir Charles Russell, Lord Houghton, and several others, 
the whole room rose and broke into loud and continuous applause, 
which lasted till they had taken their places. 

We had a very good view of Dickens, and I can see him now, stand- 
ing smiling and bowing, a flush upon his face. I even fancy I can 
hear, in this quiet room, the echo of that wonderful applause — and 
yet how many, many years it is ago, and how very few of all that 
brilliant company there are left ! Dickens looked very well and 
very much moved and gratified. As he was in evening dress, he 
could not indulge his taste for colour ; but my eyes flew to his 
buttonhole — it was a camellia, surrounded by a ring of violets; 
I wished some little bird had whispered to him to have chosen 
either one or the other. 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


207 


We ladies went into a room, and had a cold supper, or collation, 
as it was called ; then we returned to the gallery in time for the 
speeches, and when we returned the band had gone. The toast of 
the evening : “A Prosperous Voyage and Long Life to our Illus- 
trious Guest and Countryman, Charles Dickens ! ” was drunk with 
all honours, and one cheer more ; and Dickens must have been 
more than human if he could have looked round and not have been 
thrilled and stirred by the presence, and not only the presence, but 
the enthusiasm, of so many brother artists. But Dickens is very 
human in his writings, and was in himself, for his eyes filled and his 
voice trembled and shook, and I clasped my hands and was so 
excited, I could have cried if I had not been determined to hear and 
see all I could. — F 5. 

GEORGE CRUIKSIIANK. 

In those days, and down to those days (1846 or 1847) Cruikshank 
was convivial — sometimes to excess. It was not for nothing that 
Maclise had drawn him seated upon a beer barrel. . . . Later, 
when Dickens knew him, lie would fall away occasionally from his 
new and more dignified friends (who were not ascetics), and run 
a wild career for a night in his old haunts. Dickens used to describe 
one wonderful day — among others — he had passed with “ the 
inimitable George.’' 

Dickens was living in Devonshire Place, and was just setting 
to work ono morning in his library, when Cruikshank, unwashed 
and “ smelling of tobacco, beer, and sawdust,” as Dickens described 
him, burst into the room. He said he had been up all night ; 
he was afraid to go home, and begged for some breakfast. While 
he was breakfasting, Dickens did his utmost to persuade him to go 
to bed. But George resolutely set his face against it. He said he 
dared not even think of Lslington. Seeing the state of affairs, 
Dickens closed his desk, and proposed to accompany his friend 
to face the domestic storm with him. But Cruikshank would only 
consent to a walk — the farther from Islington the better. 

Dickens, under such circumstances, was an admirable friend. 
His cheery talk and wise counsel had great weight with Cruikshank ; 
but each time ho artfully turned the truant’s face cast, he drew 
back with a — “ No, no, Charley — not that way.” 

And so they walked about the streets for hours, strolling in the 
course of the day into the famous aviary of the Pantheon in Oxford"' 
Street. Here Cruikshank came suddenly face to face with one of 
Mrs. Cruikshank’s intimate friends. The scene which ensued, 
Dickens used to say, was one exquisitely farcical. And the manner 
in which ho set forth the episodes of the long day in the streets, 
with Cruikshank’s droppings into various hostelries, and his final 
dejected departure homewards, utterly worn out, and having 
exhausted his faithful friend, was in his happiest vein. — J 4 

In a whimsical account of an amateur strolling excursion, in 
which Cruikshank was one of the company (1847), supposed to be 



208 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


written by Mrs. Gamp, Dickens has vividly described the Illustrator 
of Oliver Twist : 

“ I do assure you, Mrs. Harris, when I stood in the railways 
office that morning, with my bundle on my arm, and one patten 
in my hand, you might have knocked me down with a feather, 
far less porkmangers which was a-lumping against me, continual 
and sewere all round. I was drove about like a brute animal and 
almost worritted into fits, when a gentleman with a largo shirt- 
collar, and a hook nose, and a eye like one of Mr. Sweedlepipe’s 
hawks, and long locks of hair, and wiskers that I wouldn’t have 
no lady as I was engaged to meet suddenly a- turning round a corner, 
for any sum of money you could offer me, says, laughing, 4 Halloa, 
Mrs. Gamp, what are you up to ? ’ I didn’t know him from a man 
(except by his clothes) ; but I says faintly, 4 If you’re a Christian 
man, show me where to get a second-class ticket for Man jester, 
and have me put in a carriage, or I shall drop.’ Which he kindly 
did, in a cheerful kind of w’ay, skipping about in the strangest manner 
as ever I sec, making all kinds of actions, and looking and vinking 
at me from under the brim of his hat (which w r as a good deal turned 
up) to that extent, that I should have thought he meant something, 
but for being so flurried as not to have no thoughts at all until I 
was put in a carriage along with an individgle — the politest as 
ever I sec — in a shepherd’s plaid suit with a long gold watch-guard 
hanging round his neck, and his hand a-trembling through nervous- 
ness w’orse than a aspian leaf.” Presently they fell into conversa- 
tion. 

44 4 P’raps,’ he says, 4 if you're not of the party, you don’t know 
who it was that assisted you into this carriage ? ’ 

“ 4 No, sir,’ I says, 4 1 don’t indeed.’ 

44 4 Why, ma’am,’ he says, a-wisperin’, 4 that was George, ma’am.’ 

44 4 What George, sir ? I don’t know no George,’ says I. 

44 4 The great George, ma’am,’ says he. 4 The Crookshanks.’ 

44 If you’ll believe me, Mrs. Harris, I turns my head, and see the 
wery man a-making pictures of me on his thumb nail, at the winder ! 
While another of ’em — a tall, slim, melancolly gent, with dark hair, 
and a bage vice — looks over his shoulder, with his head on one 
side, as if he understood the subject, and cooly says, 4 I’ve draw r ’d 
her several times — in Punch he says too ! The owdacious wretch ! ” 

The melancholy gent with the “ bage vice ” was Leech . — J 4. 

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN. 

In the middle of June 1847, Andersen quitted Rotterdam for 
London in the night- packet, Batavian. It is thus that ho describes 
his first impression of the Thames : 

44 Presently there were traces of the ebb-tide, the miry, slimy 
bottom appeared near the banks ; I thought of Quilp in Dickens’s 
4 Nelly and his (sic) Grandfather ’ ; I thought of Marryat’s sketches 
of life by the river here. . . .” 

At Lady Blessington’s, whither he was taken by his friend Jordan, 
be met the man he most desired to see, Charles Dickens, whose 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


209 


novels he knew well, and greatly admired. The meeting must 
be told in Anderseh’s own words — 

“ I was yesterday at Lady Blessing ton’s. . . . And can you 
guess now who was my neighbour at table ? Wellington’s eldest 
son ? Before we sat down to eat, Lady Blessington gave me the 
English edition of Das Mitrchen meines Lebens , and bade me write 
my name in it. Just as I was writing, a man came into the room, 
just like the portrait we have all seen, a man who had come to 
town for my sake, and had written, ‘ I must see Andersen ! ’ He 
had no sooner saluted the company than I left the writing-desk, 
and rushed towards him ; we took each other by the hand, looked 
into each other’s eyes, and laughed for joy ; we knew each other so 
well, although this was our first meeting — it was Charles Dickens. 
He quite comes up to my highest expectation of what he would 
be like. Outside the house is a pretty verandah which runs along 
its whole length . . . here we stood for a long time and talked — 
talked in English, but he understood me, and I him.” 

Dickens talked, among other things, about “ The Little Mermaid,” 
which Lady Dull Gordon had just translated in Bentley's Magazine , 
and praised “ A Poet’s Bazaar ” and “ The Improvisatore,” which 
he had also read. Ife also drank Andersen’s health at table, and 
the Marquis of Douro followed his example. Dickens came up to 
London a second time on purpose to see Andersen, and on this 
occasion brought him a beautifully bound edition of his works, 
in every volume of which he had WTittcn, “ To Hans Christian 
Andersen, from his friend and admirer, Charles Dickens.” — B L 

Andersen paid a second five weeks’ visit to England in 1857, 
during the whole of which time he was the guest of Dickens at Gad’s 
Hill. At first, indeed, he had been very doubtful whether he should 
accept Dickens's invitation. 

“ There is one thing you will observe at once when we meet,” 
he writes. “I talk English very badly, yes, even worse than when 
I was in your family circle last time, for then I had been nearly 
three months in England, but now 1 have not been there for ten years, 
have no practice in speaking English at home, and shall come 
straight from my Danish Fatherland over to you.” Finally, he 
declared that he would not come to England at all, unless he were 
sure of finding Dickens there. “ My visit is to you alone,” he says, 
“ and unless 1 hear from you I shall go to Switzerland.” 

But Dickens was not to be put oft’, and sent, by return of post* 
a reply brimming over with, cordiality. 

” I hope,” ho writes, “ that my answer will at once decide you 
to make your summer visit to us. . . . We shall bo at a little 
country house I have. . . . You shall have a pleasant room there with 
a charming view, and shall live as quiet and wholesome as in Copen- 
hagen itself. If you should want at any time you are with us to 
pass the night in London, this house (Tavistock House) from the 
roof to the cellar, will be at your disposal. ... So pray make up 
your mind to come to England. We have children of all sizes, ana 
they all love you. You will find yourself in a house full of admiring 



210 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and affectionate friends varying from three feet high to five feet 
nine. Mind, you must not think any more of g6ing to Switzerland. 
You must come to us.” 

This letter removed Andersen’s last scruples. In the beginning 
of June he appeared at Gad’s Hill Place, and was received literally 
with open arms. Looking back upon this visit, he used to say 
it was the happiest period of his life. He did not feel in the least 
as if he were in a foreign land ; it was just like being at home, he 
said. In a letter to the Queen Dowager of Denmark, he describes 
Dickens as the most amiable man he had ever known, with a heart 
* equal to his mind. Nay, with his usual affectionate exaggeration, 
he was inclined to place Dickens above everyone in everything ; 
declared seriously that he preferred his acting to the acting of 
Ristori, and was very indignant when his host’s benevolent efforts 
to raise a subscription for Douglas Jerrold’s widow were put down 
to base or petty motives. 

The Dickenses certainly did their very utmost to make his visit 
a happy one, and throughout his stay he did exactly what he liked. 

In the middle of July he quitted England, which he was never 
to see again. His parting with the Dickens family was heartrending, 
and he was so full of the memories of English hospitality that Paris, 
whither he went next, seemed quite strange and dismal by contrast. 
. . . Andersen always preserved a grateful recollection of Charles 
Dickens (he sent a full account of his visit to Dickens to the 
Bcrlinjske Tidende of Copenhagen, 18G0), and advertised his works 
largely in Denmark; but the enthusiasm he felt for him in 1857 
was too perfervid to last very long, and Dickens’s very natural 
hesitation to forgather indiscriminately with all the Danes whom 
he was in the habit of sending from time to time with letters of 
introduction, seems at last to have somewdiat offended Andersen ; 
anyhow, during the last fifteen years of his life we meet with no 
mention whatever of Dickens in his correspondence . — B 1. 

Dresden, during his (Hans C. Andersen’s) visit there, seems 
to have been suffering from a plague of authoresses, “ who 
swarmed in and out of the houses like so many flies ; ” . . . 
one gifted lady talked learnedly to him about the resemblance 
between the English and Danish languages ; and, by the time 
she had finished, it became perfectly plain to him that she knew 
very little about either. “ The difficulty about tho English is the 
pronunciation,” she said in conclusion, “ for the words are written 
one way and pronounced another, so that you* have no clue at 
all. Thus you spell the name of the celebrated English novelist 
D-i-c-k-e-n-s, but you pronounce it * B-o-z ’.” — B 1. 

JULIUS MAYHEW. 

Julius Mayhew possessed in an eminent degree the art of saying 
ridiculous things with an unconscious air. ... On another occasion, 
when among a few intimate friends (most of them writers), he had 
been expressing his dislike of literature and its professors. 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


211 


“ Can vou see nothing in Dickens to admire ? ” called out one of 
them. ‘*Has Macaulay no attractions for you ? ” 

“ I never met Dickens but once,” replied Julius, u and I thought 
him very offensive. He did nothing but talk, and always about 
himself. As for Caulay,” he added, “ I never till now heard of 
him.” — H. Sutherland Edwards, in Personal Recollections . 

JOHN LOTIIROP MOTLEY. 

The only very distinguished literary person that I have seen of 
late (March 1851) for the first time is Dickens. I met him last 
week at a dinner at John Forster’s. I had never even seen him 
before, for ho never goes now into fashionable company. He looks 
about the age of Longfellow. His hair is not much grizzled and is 
thick, although the crown of his head is getting bald. His features 
are good, the nose rather high, the eyes largish, greyish, and very 
expressive. He wears a moustache and beard, and dresses at dinner 
in exactly the same uniform which every man in London or the 
civilised world is bound to wear, as much as the inmates of a peni- 
tentiary are restricted to theirs. I mention this because I had heard 
that he was odd and extravagant in his costume. I liked him ex- 
ceedingty. We sat next each other at table, and I found him genial, 
sympathetic, agreeable, unaffected, with plenty of light, easy talk 
and touch-and-go fun without any effort or humbug of any kind. 
He spoke with great interest of many of his Boston friends, partic- 
ularly of Longfellow, Wendell Holmes, Felton, Sumner, and Tom 
Appleton . — C 5. 

SIR JOSEPH CROWE. 

Hunt and Wills were the two men of our newspaper set with whom 
1 most consorted. To Wills I went with pleasure, because I partic- 
ularly enjoyed the society of his wife, one of the most charming 
.and excellent women whom I ever met, who never failed to keep her 
friends attached to her, so full was she of kindness, archness, and 
humour, made especially winning by a Scotch dryness, accompanied 
by a delightful Scotch accent. At her house parties and balls were 
often given, where all the literary celebrities of the day, except, 
perhaps, Thackeray, were to be met. Here were to be seen the 
Rowland Hills ; Mrs. Crowe, my namesake, authoress of the Night 
Side of Nature ; Kenny Meadows, the illustrator of books ; the 
genial and delightful John Leech of Punch , and a whole bevy of 
ladies of the Chambers family, one of whom became Mrs. Lehmann, 
another the grand and handsome wife of Dr. Priestley. Horace 
Mayhew also enlivened these evenings with his jokes, which he sowed 
broadcast, preparatory to selecting the best for Punch ; then came 
Mark Lemon with his portly figure, Shirley Brooks, Albert Smith, 
and Douglas Jerrold with his wife and sons, companions of Laman 
Blanchard and myself, and last, not least, Charles Dickens with 
his wife and her sister, Miss Hogarth . — G 0. 



212 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


LORD DARNLEY. 

The Lord Darnley of that day was a great friend of his, and was 
ever eager to show his appreciation of his distinguished and interest- 
ing neighbour ; and Dickens on his side, as I noted, relaxed the 
sort of indifference he felt for what are called “ nobs ” — “ swells ” 
and persons of title. There was no radical feeling in the matter, 
but he always disdained being patronised or “ encouraged.” Lord 
Darnley was ever kindly to him. He and his family used often to 
dine at Cobham. As is well known, Fechter’s chalet, which used 
» to stand on “ Boz’s ” little property across the road, was given by 
the family to the Damleys, and it is now set up in their grounds. — 
F 2. 


BRET HARTE ' FRIEND WHOM HE NEVER SAW). 

~scr ' 

Bret Hrettjtold me the little history of that ever-green poem 
[“ Dicke r veuuamp ”], of how it was written on the day that the news 
of the death of Dickens reached him at San Rafael, California, while 
the last sheets of the July Overland , already edited by him, were 
going to press. After stifling the emotion that he felt (for he dearly 
loved his “ Boz ”), he hurriedly sent his first and only draft of the 
verses, which were destined to live so long, to the office at San 
Francisco. They were written in two or three hours, and at his 
urgent request the publication of the magazine w'as held back until 
they could appear. 

On the day when, amidst “ a rain of tears and flowers ” — many 
flowers brought by unknown hands, many tears shed from unknown 
eyes — Charles Dickens was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, a 
letter in his handwriting (the magic handwriting that brought and 
still brings merriment and comfort to millions), addressed to Bret 
Harte, was on its way across the Atlantic. It was a letter in his 
usual hearty, breezy style, telling the young author how highly 
he thought of his work, asking him to contribute to All the Year 
Rcnind (of which he was then editor), and bidding him, when he 
came to England, which he was “ certain soon to do,” to visit him 
at his delightful home at Gad’s II ill — “ a spot with which you are no 
doubt already familiar in connection with one William Shakespeare 
and a certain Sir John Falstaff.” 

Bret Harte’ s first visit to London was perforce a short one. There 
he found his old friend Joaquin Miller, who concerning it made this 
record : 

“ He came to me in London late in the seventies, on his way to 
the Consulate at Crefeld. ... He could not rest until he stood by 
the grave of Dickens. But I drove him here and I drove him there 
to see the living. The dead would keep. But at last, one twilight, 
I led him by the hand to where some plain letters, in a broad, flat 
stone, just below' the bust of Thackeray, read ‘ Charles Dickens.’ 

“ Bret Harte is dead now, and it will not hurt him in politics, 
where they seem to want hard and heartless men for high places — 
not hurt him in politics or in anything anywhere — to tell the plain 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


213 


truth, how he tried to speak, but choked up, how tears ran down 
and fell on the stone as he bowed his bare head very low ; how his 
hand trembled as I led him away.” 

Bret Harte was, indeed, a true believer in the genius of Charles 
Dickens. His knowledge of his books was unrivalled, and he could 
not only enjoy his humour, but appreciate to the utmost his pathos. 
He could have passed Charles Calverley’s famous Pickwick Examina- 
tion Paper with honours . — P I. 

DISRAELI. 

We spoke of Dickens. I mentioned that Dickens had told me 
of his meeting Lord Beaeonsfield (then Mr. Disraeli) at dinner ; this 
was only a few weeks before Dickens's death. I told Lord Beacons- 
field that, in mentioning the circumstance to me, Dickens had said, 
“ What a delightful man he is! What an extraordinary pity it is 
that he should ever have given up literature for politics ! ” This, 
as I expected, seemed to amuse Lord Beaeonsfield very much. He 
said, “ I remember the occasion perfectly ; it was at Lord Stan- 
hope’s. 1 was one day mentioning to him my regret at having seen 
so little of Mr. Dickens, and he said, ‘ He is coming to dine here 
next week ; come and meet him.’ I went, and sat next to 
Dickens.” 

Lord Beaeonsfield spoke of the charm of Dickens’s conversation, 
his brightness, and his humour ; and I remarked I had always held 
that Dickens was an exception to the general rule of authors being 
so much less interesting than their books. — Y. 


LANDSEER. 

It happened that on one occasion when Landseer was engaged 
to dine at my father’s house, ail the company had assembled in 
the drawing-room with the exception of the painter. My father, 
who had invited him earlier than his other guests knowing that 
he would probably arrive the last of all, grew impatient ; but, drawing 
out his watch, determined to wait for him another quarter of an 
hour. After that time had elapsed, no Landseer appearing he 
decided upon going downstairs with his friends, and dinner was 
well-nigh half over before Landseer walked in. My father received 
him rather coldly, thinking that his affectation was becoming 
intolerable and deserved a slight punishment ; but my aunt, who 
sat near to where Landseer was placed, noticed that he was very 
pale and that his hands and face were twitching nervously. He 
became more composed as the dinner proceeded, and after it was 
over, took my father aside and told him that ho had left his studio 
early enough to reach Devonshire Terrace in good time for dinner, 
and was anxious to be in time, as he knew my father’s punctual 
habits, but that, as his foot almost touched the doorstep of the 
house, one of those terrible fits of nervousness and shyness to which 
he was subject came upon him, and he was obliged to walk up and 
down the street for a long time before he could summon up courage 



214 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


to ring at the bell. I can imagine how the severity of my father’s 
manner softened at this confession, and how eagerly and affection- 
ately he must have assured his friend of his warm sympathy. — 
Mrs. Kate Perugini, in the Magazine of Art , February 1903. 

GEORGE DOLBY. 

George Dolby, once Charles Dickens’s trusted secretary and 
successful “ reading ” manager, died a few days ago in Fulham 
Infirmary,- penniless and unkempt. Dolby’s career was remarkable. 
• The Daily News gives an interesting sketch of the doings of Dolby 
when he and Dickens were on tour in England and America — 
Dickens reading his works to wildly enthusiastic audiences, Dolby 
diverting into coffers the stream of gold which the readings produced. 

“ The history of Dolby is the history of the readings. He was 
always in difficulties. So fierce was the demand to hear the reader 
that Dolby, not being Procrustes, could never accommodate the 
hall to the public. But enthusiastic crowds used to fill them to 
the roofs, and hundreds used to be turned away nightly. Their only 
resource was to ‘ pitch into Dolby.’ 

“ ‘In Dublin,’ says Dickens, 4 people are besieging Dolby to put 
chairs anywhere ; in doorways, on my platform, in any sort of hole 
and comer. This was in Dublin. In Liverpool the police intimate 
officially that three thousand peoplo were turned away — they 
carried in the outer doors and pitched into Dolby.’ 

“ It was Dolby who used to administer to the distinguished 
reader the oysters and champagne, and other fillips, between the 
‘ acts ’ in the dressing-room. It was Dolby who used to amuse him 
in the harassing railway journeys between the towns and cities. 
It was Dolby who, bubbling over with joy, used to bring him the 
evidence of his amazing popularity, as judged by the heavy bags 
of money jingling in his hand. And sometimes Dolby used to come 
with hair dishevelled and garments torn and tattered, after a fight 
with an enraged and disappointed crowd/’ 

It was Dolby who fought the speculators in seats in America and 
made £1300 a week for Dickens. Three-quarters of a mile of people 
would wait outside Dolby’s office for tickets, and many of them 
slept the night before on mattresses in the streets. Dolby was the 
buffer between Dickens and his raving American friends. And it 
was Dolby who watched over Dickens as if he were a child, “ as 
tender as a woman and as watchful as a doctor.” 

Dickens made £20,000 by the American tour, and the tour killed 
him. Dolby’s share was £3000, and he died penniless through 
drink . — Daily Mail , October 16, 1900. 

A TOUCHING COMPLIMENT. 

Of the personal esteem, the affection even, that was felt for Dickens 
in his lifetime by people who were strangers to him, here is an anec- 
dote told by his son, Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens, the distinguished 
K.C. As readers of Forster’s biography know, Dickens used to 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


215 


take an interest in the sports of the young men in the neighbour- 
hood of his Kentish home, played cricket with them, and acted 
as president of their club. As he was sitting in the tent one 
afternoon keeping the score, a sergeant of the line came in and, 
making a bow, said — 

“ Is Mr. Charles Dickens here ? ” 

“ Yes,” said Dickens, “ here I am.” 

The soldier waited a moment and said, “ I ask your pardon, 
sir, but may I look at you for a little while so as to get your features 
in my mind ? ” 

“ Oh, certainly,” replied Dickens; “I will go on with my score.” 

The soldier waited a minute or two and then said, “ It would 
be a great honour, sir, if I might shake your hand.” 

“ There's my hand,” said Dickens, “ and all the luck in the world 
to you.” 

“ Good-bye, sir, and God bless you,” was the reply ; “I’m going 
to India this week.” 

Dickens said that no other compliment ever touched him as 
that did. — R 2. 

HIS WORK FOR HIS BROTHER AUTHORS. 

On 20th July 1805, an event took place which was deeply in- 
teresting to those connected with literature, namely, the opening 
of what was called the Guild of Literature at Stevenage, near 
Knebworth. It was the desire of the founders to erect a number 
of houses, on sites presented by Sir Edward Lytton, -which might 
either be given or let cheaply to authors. The opening day was 
celebrated at Knebworth itself by a great luncheon. Many of 
the guests were writers of mark. Mr. Charles Dickens was there 
with his family and Mr. John Forster, editor of the Examiner , an 
old and constant friend both of Sir Edward Lytton and of his son. 
There were many of Sir Edward Lytton’ s acquaintances present, 
literary as well as others. Mr. Dickens made a remarkable speech 
which created a great impression. — Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Drummond 
Wolff, in Rambling Recollections, 

GUILD OF LITERATURE AND ART. 

Forster has told us how the Guild of Literature and Art took 
shape out of a scheme for benefiting two authors in distressed 
circumstances by giving a number of amateur performances at 
different provincial centres. That unfortunate Guild of Literature 
and Art ! What a text it would make for a sermon on the vanity 
of human wishes ! It was, Dickens declared, to change the status 
of the literary man in England, and to make a revolution in his 
position which no Government could affect. In the present year 
of grace it is as though the Guild had never had a corporate or any 
other existence, but all honour to the great man of letters who worked 
so nobly in establishing it ! Dickens slaved for it as few men 
ever slaved in a good cause, and communicated his enthusiasm to 



216 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


others. It was only seven years ago that the Guild was dissolved and 
its remaining property divided between the Literary Fund and the 
Artists’ Benevolent Institution, but the conviction was early forced 
upon its promoters that it was a failure. Needy literary men we 
have always with us, but they will not bury themselves in a little 
out-of«4he-way place in Hertfordshire. A genuine applicant with 
unimpeachable testimonials would have been taken to the bosom 
of the Guild and feted as never prodigal was feted in this world. 
But he was not to be found . — R 2. 

* byron’s flute. 

It is by no means easy to think of any possible combination of 
circumstances which should link Lord Byron and Charles Dickens 
with the late George Manville Fenn. But there is such a link in 
existence, and one of a very interesting character. Among the 
curiosities treasured up for years by Mr. Fenn is a letter in Dickens’s 
autograph upon a sheet of old-fashioned, blue, wire-woven note- 
paper. It remained for years before Mr. Fenn received it upon 
the bill- file of the tradesman to whom it was sent, w r ith the result 
that it is pierced by three rough holes where the wore passed through 
the original folds of the time-stained paper. The letter relates to 
Lord Byron’s flute. 

Dated in the older novelist’s characteristic way, “ Devonshire 
Terrace, Twentieth June, 1848,” the document reads : 

“ Mr. Charles Dickens is much obliged to Mr. Claridge for the offer 
of Lord Byron’s flute. But, as Mr. Dickens cannot play that 
instrument himself, and has nobody in his house who can, he begs 
to decline the purchase, w ith thanks.” 

As Mr. Fenn used to say, in showing the relic to his friends, 
“ You cannot see a smile upon the paper, but there seems to be 
one playing among the words.” One thinks of the melancholy 
young gentleman at Todgers’s and the flute serenade, and of Dick 
Swiveller’s mournful nocturnal performances on tho same instru- 
ment when Sophy Wackles had been lost to him for ever. — West- 
minster Gazette , September 6, 1900. 

MEMENTOES. 

Some interesting mementoes of the late diaries Dickens were 
to be seen, in August 1909, at the New Dudley Gallery, at the 
third annual Dickens Exhibition. One of the most notable 
additions was the gun used by the novelist on the somewhat rare 
occasions w T hen he went shooting. No doubt can be entertained 
as to the authenticity of tho weapon, for it bears his name on the 
butt, together with that of his biographer, Mr. John Forster, who 
presented it to him. Thero is no special feature about it, beyond its 
connection with Dickens, but that will be quite sufficient attraction 
for the admirers of the great novelist. 

Among the other relics was a very rare and finely preserved copy 
of Master Humphrey's Clock , in its original binding, lent by Mr. 



AMONG HIS FRIENDS. 


217 


Frank T. Sabin. The copy acquires additional interest from the 
fact that it was presented by the author to Mr, J. P. Harley, who 
acted in the character of “ The Strange Gentleman.” From Mr. 
Harley the volume passed into the possession of the late Mr. J. L. 
Toole, whoso name it also bears. 

Another interesting volume was a copy of Bleak House, containing 
a presentation inscription in the handwriting of Dickens, by Avhom 
it was given to his friend Emile do la Rue. With it there is a long 
autograph letter, referring to the curiously opposite subjects of the 
war in the Crimea and spirit rapping. There was also a set of 
diamond, pearl, and turquoise studs, upon the back of each of which 
is engraved “ C. D. to F. B.,” the set having been presented to 
Mr. Francesco Berger, as a memento of the performance of The 
Frozen Deep , for which Mr. Berger composed the music . — Daily 
Chronicle , August 9, 1909. 



X 


AS A SOCIAL REFORMER 


mr. Fitzgerald’s summing-up. 

Let us now see in detail the reforms and ameliorations for which 
his countrymen are so indebted to Dickens. By his Pickwick 
and Little Dorrit he succeeded in abolishing the dreadful horrors 
and oppression of Imprisonment for Debt. Within a few years 
the prisons were closed, and the Fleet Prison levelled to the ground. 
I myself have given lectures to the Dickens Fellowship in the great 
Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, which is built on the site, and 
it was a strange feeling to walk on the ground where Mr. Pickwick 
had walked. 

The Yorkshire ScnooLS — his pictures of these institutions 
for “ boy-farming ” were so vividly and appallingly described in 
NicHeby that their destruction followed almost at once. 

The Workhouse System branded and reformed by his Oliver 
Twist . 

The life of the Criminal Class exposed to view in the same story, 
with a plea for indulgence to the wretched Nancys and others who 
were associated with that life. 

The Hypocrite and his methods exposed in Cliuzzlewit as well as 
the nefarious system of company swindling. 

Religious Fanaticism made odious in Burnaby Budge and in the 
portraits of Stiggins, Chadband, Honeythunder, and others. 

The low-class “ shark ” Solicitor held up in The Old Curiosity 
Shop. 

The terrible Law’s Delay shown with scathing satire in Bleak 
House. 

Money-Lenders and their grinding tyranny were exhibited 
in Nicldeby and Our Mutual Friend. 

The system of the Public Offices devised to flout and baffle all 
inquiries and complaints was lashed in Little Dorrit under the form 
of “ Circumlocution.” 

Strikes and their abuses, with the unfeeling tyranny of the 
masters, exhibited in Hard Times, 

The Patent Laws exposed. Also the pedantic system of 
School Teaching. Workhouse Oppression with the abuse of 
“ settlement ” were dealt with in Our Mutual Friend . 

218 



AS A SOCIAL REFORMER. 


219 


Also the hardships on the poor of the existing Marriage Law. 

Tyranny of Magistrates and Judges help up to scorn and 
reprobation in The Chimes , Oliver Twisty and Pickwick ; and the 
treatment of the miserable Street Waif exposed in the most 
powerful fashion by the example of Joe in Bleak House and of the 
boy in The Haunted Man. Besides many more instances of a 
trifling kind, but used with potent effect. In all these cases there 
was no “ missing fire.” The stroke told at once ; the remedy 
followed . — F 2. 

I regard Dickens as the greatest social reformer in England I have 
ever known outside polities. His works have tended to revolu- 
tionise for the better our law courts, our prisons, our hospitals, our 
schools, our workhouses, our government offices, etc. He was a 
fearless exposer of cant in every direction — religious, social, and 
political. — M 2. 

ON PUBLIC EXECUTIONS. 

In November 1850 Dickens witnessed the execution of Mrs. 
Manning at Horsemonger Lane Gaol. . . . The whole scene, in- 
expressibly odious and ghastly in its details, impressed him so 
strongly by its absolute offensiveness that he was induced to offer, 
in a letter to the Tiincs, his opinions respecting public executions 
and their demoralising effect upon the minds of callous observers. 
“ I am solemnly convinced,” he said, “ that nothing that ingenuity 
could devise to be done in this city, in the same compass of time, 
could work such ruin as one public execution, and I stand astounded 
and appalled by the wickedness it exhibits.” He wrote a second 
letter suggesting that executions should be carried out inside the 
prison walls, and these suggestions have been adopted almost 
exactly as prescribed — an improved condition of affairs with the 
initiation of which Dickens may justly be credited. — K 1. 

AN ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMER. 

At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on 27th June 1855, Dickens 
spoke on behalf of the Administrative Reform Association which 
was started after the Crimean disclosures. In the course of his speech 
he said : “In my sphere of action I have tried to understand the 
heavier social grievances, and to help to set them right. When the 
Times newspaper proved its then almost incredible case in reference 
to the ghastly absurdity of that vast labyrinth of misplaced 
men and misdirected things, which had made England unable to 
find on the face of the earth an enemy one-twentieth part as 

E otent to effect the misery and ruin of her noble defenders as she 
as been herself, I believe that the gloomy silence into which the 
country fell was by far the darkest aspect in which a, great people 
had been exhibited for many years. With shame and indignation 
lowering among all classes of society, and this new element of dis- 
cord piled on the heaving basis of ignorance, poverty, and crime, 
which is always below us — with little adequate expression of the 



220 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


f eneral mind, or apparent understanding of the general mind, in 
Parliament — with the machinery of Government and the legislature 
going round and round, and the people fallen from it and standing 
aloof, as if they left it to its last remaining function of destroying 
itself, when it had achieved the destruction of so much that was 
dear to them — I did and do believe that the only wholesome turn 
affairs so menacing could possibly take, was the awaking of the 
people, the outspeaking of the people, the uniting of the people in 
all patriotism and loyalty to effect a great peaceful constitutional 
change in the administration of their own affairs. I think we may 
reasonably remark that all obstinate adherence to rubbish W'hich 
the time has long outlived, is certain to have in the soul of it more 
or less that is pernicious and destructive ; and that will some day 
set fire to something or other ; which, if given boldly to the winds, 
w r ould have been harmless ; but which, obstinately retained, is 
ruinous. I believe myself that when Administrative Reform goes 
up it will be idle to hope to put it down, on this or that particular 
instance. The great, broad, and true cause that our public progress 
is far behind our private progress, and that we are not more remarkable 
for our private wisdom and success in matters of business than we 
are for our public folly and failure, I take to be as clearly established 
as the sun, moon, and stars. In this old country, with its seething 
hard-worked millions, its heavy taxes, its swarms of ignorant, its 
crowds of poor, and its crowds of wicked, woe the day when the 
dangerous man shall find a day for himself, because the head of the 
Government failed in his duty in not anticipating it by a brighter 
and a better one ! ” — S 1. 

A SOCIAL REFORMER. 

At Birmingham, on the 30th December 1853, Dickens read the 
Christmas Carol to a large assemblage of work-people, for w hom, 
at his special request, the major part of the vast edifice was reserved. 
Before commencing the tale, Mr. Dickens said : “ If there ever was a 
time when any class could of itself do much for its own good, and for 
the welfare of society — which I greatly doubt — that time is tm- 
questionably past. It is in the fusion of different classes, without 
confusion ; in the bringing together of employers and employed ; 
in the creating of a better common understanding among those 
whose interests are identical, who depend upon each other, wdio 
are vitally essential to each other, and who can never be in un- 
natural antagonism without deplorable results, that one of the chief 
principles of a Mechanics’ Institution should consist. In this world a 
great deal of the bitterness among us arises from an imperfect under- 
standing of one another. Erect in Birmingham a great Educational 
Institution, properly educational ; educational of the feelings os well 
as of the reason ; to which all orders of Birmingham men contri- 
bute ; in which all orders of Birmingham men meet ; wherein all 
orders of Birmingham men are faithfully represented — and you will 
erect a Temple of Concord here which will be a model edifice tathe 
whole of England.” — S 1. 



AS A SOCIAL REFORMER. 


221 


Social Reform also formed the subject of a speech by Dickens 
on 10th May 1851 at a dinner of the Metropolitan Sanitary Associa- 
tion. “ There are,” he observed, “ very few words for me to say 
upon tho needfulness of sanitary reform, or the consequent useful- 
ness of the Board of Health. That no man can estimate the amount 
of mischief grown in dirt, that no man can say the evil stops here 
or stops there, either in its moral or physical effects, or can deny that 
it begins in the cradle and is not at rest in the miserable grave, is 
as certain as it is that the air from Gin Lane will be carried by an 
easterly wind into Mayfair, or that the furious pestilence raging 
in St. Giles’s no mortal list of lady patronesses can keep out of 
Almack’s. Fifteen years ago some of the valuable reports of Mr. 
Chadwick and Dr. South wood Smith, strengthening and much 
enlarging my knowledge, made me earnest in this cause in my own 
sphere ; and I can honestly declare that the use I have since that 
time made of my eyes and nose have only strengthened the conviction 
that certain sanitary reforms must precede all other social remedies, 
and that neither education nor religion can do anything useful until 
the way has been paved for their ministrations by cleanliness and 
decency .” — S 1. 


DEFENCE OF THE WEAK. 

The thought of any injustice done by the strong to the weak 
made, if we may borrow the words of Macaulay as applied to Burke, 
the blood of Charles Dickens boil in his veins. There was nothing 
•wild about his philanthropy or his political opinions. He was not 
for rushing to extremes. He was not even for too much of de- 
monstration with band and banner, and what Carlyle called “ hip- 
hip-hip and three cheers.” He was too earnest and too energetic 
to be satisfied with tho mere sweetness and light of Matthew Arnold, 
but he was an eager champion of the genuine and authentic rights 
of his fellow-man. Ilis teachers, as Ebenezer Elliott, the poet, 
said of himself, were “ tho torn heart's wail — the tyrant and the 
slave ; the street, the factory, the jail ; the palace, and the grave.” 
But,* like Ebenezer Elliott, too, his mind and his common sense 
revolted against extravagance, because lie could see that extrava- 
gance only leads to reaction and revulsion . — Daily News , January 
21, 1890. 

His letters to the Daily News under the title of u Crime 
and Education,” furnish a striking instance of tho youthful 
novelist’s enthusiasm for social reform. His views, it appears, 
on these subjects were too bold and liberal for the Edinburgh 
Review , which stately organ in 1843 declined his offer to contribute 
an article on Ragged Schools. His impassioned condemnation of 
Capital punishment [see Daily News, March 9, 13, and 16, 1846] and 
vigorous description of tho degradation and the horror of a public 
execution, together with his scarce little pamphlet against 
Sabbatarian fanaticism are further examples. Even a notice 
written by him of a remarkable American Panorama exhibited at 



222 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, affords him an opportunity for 
urging the claims of the poor ; it ends with the words : 

“ It would be well to have a panorama, three miles long, of 
England. There might be places in it worth looking at, a little 
closer than we see them now ; and worth the thinking of, a little 
more profoundly. It would be hopeful, too, to see some things in 
England, part and parcel of a moving panorama : and not of one 
that stood still, or had a disposition to go backward.” — Daily Neivs, 
February 14, 1898. 

THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF CHARITY. 

I suppose most readers of popular fiction form an idea — erroneous 
sometimes, no doubt — of the author's private character. In 
Dickens’s writings, sympathy with the suffering is in such over- 
whelming evidence, that it would be strange indeed if the mainspring 
were not to be found in the writer’s own nature, and it would also 
be strange if attempts were not made to take advantage of such 
evident kindness of heart in furtherance of unworthy objects. 
Dickens has told of some of those attacks upon the heart and purse 
in print, and with the delightful humour peculiar to him ; but he 
has not told — because it was not for him to tell — of any of the 
instances in which he has stretched out a helping hand to real dis- 
tress. I venture to present my readers with a single illustration, 
in which Dickens and I “ w ent partners,” as we used to say at school, 
and appropriately, as those benefited w ere the wife and children of 
an artist. In the letter which follows, I have only suppressed 
names : 

“ Thus the case stands : if anybody sends money to Mrs- , 

I know no more of it ; neither does anybody else. But if anybody 

sends money for the family’s benefit to the fund at , I 

can answer for the moneys being forthcoming, simply because 
I have made the account payable to my draft only. Of course I 
have done this as a temporary measure, and I have from the first 
taken it for granted that you and the third gentleman, whose name 
I forget (but it was attached to the prospectus with our names), 
will accept the administration of the money with mo, or with any 
others whom we may join with us. There is the account open 

at , and Mrs. has no power over it ; consequently, the 

object of the subscribers cannot be abused. — F 7. 

A FRIEND OF THE SLUM CHILD. 

The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, was founded 
on a small scale by Charles Dickens and a few others fifty-eight years 
ago, and was the first hospital ever established in this country for 
children. It has been well called “ The Mother of Children’s 
Hospitals,” and has been the model for all other similar institutions. 
Here is an extract from Dickens’s speech at the anniversary dinner 
on 9th February 1858. After some reference to the spoilt children 
of the richer classes he went on to say : 



AS A SOCIAL REFORMER. 


223 


“ The spoilt children whom I must show you are the spoilt children 
of the poor in this great city. The two grim nurses. Poverty and 
Sickness, who bring these children before you, preside over their 
births, rock their wretched cradles, nail down their little coffins, 
pile up the earth above their graves. Of the annual deaths in this 
great town, their unnatural deaths form more than one-third. I 
should not ask you, according to the custom as to the other class — 
I should not ask you on behalf of these children to observe how good 
they are, how pretty they are, how clever they are, how promising 
they are, whose beauty they most resemble — I should only ask you 
to observe how weak they are, and how like death they are ! And 
1 should ask you, by the remembrance of everything that lies 
between your own infancy and that so miscalled second childhood 
when the child’s graces are gone, and nothing but its helplessness 
remains ; I should ask you to turn your thoughts to these spoilt 
children in the sacred names of Pity and Compassion. Within 
a quarter of a mile of this place where I speak, stands a courtly 
old house, where once, no doubt, blooming children were born, 
and grew up to be men and women, and married, and brought 
their own blooming children back to patter up the old oak stair- 
case which stood but the other day, and to wonder at the old oak 
carvings on the chimneypieces. In the airy wards into which the 
old state drawing-rooms and family bedchambers of that house 
are now converted are such little patients that the attendant nurses 
look like reclaimed good giantesses, and the kind medical practitioner 
like an amiable Christian ogre. Grouped about the little low tables 
in the centre of the rooms are such tiny convalescents that they 
seem to be playing at having been ill. On the dolls’ beds are such 
diminutive creatures that each poor sufferer is supplied with its 
tray of toys ; and, looking round, you may see how the little, tired, 
Hushed cheek has toppled over half the brute creation on its wav into 
the ark ; or liow r ono little dimpled arm has mowed down (as I saw' 
myself) the whole tin soldiery of Europe. On the walls of these 
rooms are graceful, pleasant, bright, childish pictures. At the 
beds’ heads are pictures of the figure which is the universal embodi- 
ment of all mercy and compassion, the ligure of Him who w as once 
a child Himself, and a poor ono. Besides these little creatures on 
the bods, you may learn in that place that the number of small 
out-patients brought to that house for relief is no fewer than ten 
thousand in the compass of ono single year. This is the pathetic 
case which I have to put to you ; not only on behalf of the thousands 
of children who annually dio in this great city, but also on behalf 
of the thousands of children who live half-developed, racked with 
preventible pain, shorn of their natural capacity for health and 
enjoyment. If these innocent creatures cannot move you for them- 
selves, how can I possibly hope to move you in their name ? The 
most delightful paper, the most charming essay, w hich the tender 
imagination of Charles Lamb conceived, represents him as sitting 
by his fireside on a winter night telling stories to his own dear 
children and delighting in their society, until he suddenly comes to 



224 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


his old, solitary, bachelor self, and finds that they are but dream- 
children who might have been, but never were. 4 We are nothing,* 
they say to him, 4 less than nothing, and dreams. We are only 
what might have been, and wo must wait upon the tedious shore of 
Lethe, millions of ages, before we have existence and a name.’ 
< And immediately awaking,’ he says, 4 1 found myself in my arm- 
chair.* The dream-children whom I would now raise, if I could, 
before every one of you, according to your various circumstances, 
should be the dear child you love, the dearer child you have lost, 
the child you might have had, the child you certainly, have been. 
Each of these dream-children should hold in its powerful hand one 
of the little children now lying in the Children’s Hospital, or now 
shut out of it to perish. Each of these dream-children should say 
to you, 4 Oh, help this little suppliant in my name ; oh, help it for 
my sake ! * Well ! — And immediately awaking, you should find 
yourself in the Freemasons 5 Hall, happily arrived at the end of a 
rather long speech, drinking 4 Prosperity to the Hospital for Sick 
Children,’ and thoroughly resolved that it should flourish .” — S 1. 

AS EDUCATIONAL REFORMER. 

Mr. J. L. Hughes, inspector of public schools in Toronto, writes 
in the February Century on 44 What Charles Dickens did for Chil- 
dren : His work in Education.” He begins by declaring, 44 Froebel 
and Dickens are the best interpreters of Christ’s ideals of childhood. 
The philosophy of FroebeJ and the stories of Dickens are in perfect 
harmony,” Dickens 44 was the greatest destructive educational 
critic, but he was also a most advanced, positive, constructive 
educator. There is no great ideal of the 4 new education ’ which is 
not revealed by Dickens in his novels or his miscellaneous writings.” 
He was, it seems, 44 the first Englishman of note to advocate the 
kindergarten.” This he did in Household Words , July 1855. In 
his writings generally — 44 every element of purity and strength in 
the new education is revealed. The reverent sympathy for child- 
hood ; the spirit of true motherhood ; the full recognition of self- 
hood; the influence of nature in revealing conceptions of life, 
evolution, and God ; the development of body, mind, and spirit 
through play ; the need of training the entire being as a unity ; 
the culture of originative and executive power ; the necessity for 
perfect freedom in order to attain full growth ; and the fundamental 
process of creative self-activity — all were clear to tho great absorp- 
tive and reproductive mind of Dickens.” He aroused the world m 
two ways : he pictured both the bad and the good ways of training. 
Squeers, Dr. Blimber, Gradgrind, and Mr. Creakle were examples 
of the wrong methods ; Dr. Strong, in David Copperficld , was “ a 
type of every high modern ideal of education.” No man could 
have written Hard Times who was not an advanced and thought- 
ful educator. Mr. Hughes concludes by asking — 44 Did Dickens 
deliberately aim to improve educational systems and reveal the 
principles of educational philosophy ? Tho answer is easily found. 
He was the first great English student of Froebel. He deals with 



AS A SOCIAL REFORMER. 


225 


nineteen different schools in his books. He gives more attention 
to the training of childhood than any other novelist, or any other 
educator except Froebel. He was one of the first Englishmen to 
demand national control of education, even in private schools, 
and the thorough training of all teachers. He exposed fourteen 
types of coercion, and did more than anyone else to lead Christian 
men and women to treat children humanely. Every book he wrote 
except two is rich in educational thought. He took the most 
advanced position on every phase of modem educational thought, 
except manual training. When he is thoroughly understood he 
will be recognised as the Froebel of England .” — Review of Reviews , 
February 1899. 

Presiding at the fourth anniversary dinner of the Warehousemen 
and Clerks* Schools, on 5th November 1857, Dickens referred at 
some length to schools in general. First of all he spoke of the 
sorts of schools he did not like. He found them, on consideration, 
to be rather numerous. lie proceeded to sketch the other sort of 
school he did like. 

“ It is,” he said, “ a school established by the members of an 
industrious and useful order, which supplies the comforts and 
graces of life at every familiar turning in the road of our existence ; 
it is a school established by them for the orphan and necessitous 
children of their own brethren and sisterhood ; it is a place giving 
an education worthy of them — an education by them invented, 
by them conducted, by them watched over ; it is a place of 
education where, while the beautiful history of the Christian religion 
is daily taught, and while the life of that Divine Teacher who Himself 
took little children on His knees is daily studied, no sectarian ill-will 
nor narrow human dogma is permitted to darken the face of the 
clear heaven which they disclose. It is a children’s school, which 
is at the same time no less a children’s home, a home not to be 
confided to the care of cold or ignorant strangers, nor, by the nature 
of its foundation, in the course of ages to pass into hands that have 
as much natural right to deal with it as with the peaks of the highest 
mountains or with the depths of the sea, but to be from generation 
to generation administered by men living in precisely such homes 
as those poor children have lost ; by men always bent upon making 
that replacement such a home as their own dear children might 
find a happy refuge in if they themselves were taken early away. 
And I fearlessly ask you, is this a design which has any claim to 
your sympathy ? Is this a sort of school which is deserving of your 
support ? ” — 8 1. 

In an address on 3rd December 1858, before the Institutional 
Association of Lancashire and Cheshire, held in the Free-Trade 
Hall at Manchester, Dickens dealt eloquently with the pursuit of 
knowledge, not by men like himself, the business of whose life is 
with writing and with books, but by men the business of whose 
life is with tools and with machinery. 

“ Of the advantages of knowledge, 1 have said, and I shall say, 
8 



226 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


nothing. Of the certainty with which the man who grasps it under 
difficulties rises in his own respect and in usefulness to the com- 
munity, I have said, and I shall say, nothing. In the city of Man- 
chester, in the county of Lancaster, both of them remarkable for 
self-taught men, that were superfluous indeed. For the same reason 
I rigidly abstain from putting together any of the shattered frag- 
ments of that poor clay image of a parrot, which was once always 
saying, without knowing why, or what it meant, that knowledge 
was a dangerous thing. Do not let us, in the midst of the visible 
objects of nature, whose workings we can tell of in figures, surrounded 
by machines that can be made to the thousandth part of an inch, 
acquiring every day knowledge which can be proved upon a slate 
or demonstrated by a microscope — do not let us, in the laudable 
pursuit of the facts that surround us, neglect the fancy and the 
imagination which equally surround us as a part of the great scheme. 
Let the child have its fables ; let the man or woman into which it 
changes, always remember those fables tenderly. Let numerous 
graces and ornaments that cannot be weighed and measured, and 
that seem at first sight idle enough, continue to have their places 
about us, be wo never so wise. The hardest head may co-exist 
with the softest heart. The union and just balance of those two 
is always a blessing to the possessor, and always a blessing to man- 
kind. Knowledge, as all followers of it must know, has a very 
limited power indeed, when it informs the head alone ; but when 
it informs the head and ’the heart too, it has a power over life and 
death, the body and the soul, and dominates the universe . ” — S 1. 

A CORN LAW REFORMER. 

About the time that the agitation against the Corn Laws was at 
its height (14th January 1840) young Robinson was present at a 
meeting held in the village of Bremhill, in Wiltshire, to protest 
against the taxation of the people’s food. It was on a moonlight 
night, for the working people could only meet after the day’s toil 
was done, and young Robinson stood near a waggon under a tree, 
facing a crowd of agricultural labourers, men and women. Bread 
was fearfully dear and wages were frightfully low. The poor 
fellows knew nothing of political economy, but they had heard 
the cry of “ cheap bread,” and they braved their masters’ anger 
and met round that tree to petition Parliament to let the corn ships 
in the offing discharge their golden freight without a tax. 

A poor woman stood up in the waggon and she said with intense 
energy, “They say we be purtected. If we be purtected, we be 
starved.” Her name was Lucy Simpkins. The woman’s words 
and manner struck the young listener under the tree, and it occurred 
to him that some account of the scene would be of interest. He 
therefore posted a descriptive paragraph to the London Daily 
News , which had recently been started under the editorship of 
Charles Dickens. The paragraph duly appeared and attracted 
the attention of Dickens, who thereupon wrote some stirring 



AS A SOCIAL REFORMER. 


227 


verses on the subject which appeared in the issue of that paper 
for 14th February 1846 . — R 2. 

[The verses will be found on page 82, under the heading of 
“ Dickens as a Poet.”] 

AGAINST SLAVERY. 

Dickens was very strongly against slavery, and once, on his first 
visit to America in 1842, a hard-looking, unprepossessing individual 
ventured to remind him that it was not the interest of a man to 
ill-use his slaves ; to which the novelist quietly replied “ that it was 
not a man’s interest to get drunk, or to steal, or to game, or to 
indulge in any other vice, but ho did indulge in it for all that. That 
cruelty and the abuse of irresponsible power were two of the bad 
passions of human nature, with the gratification of which, con- 
siderations of interest or of ruin had nothing whatever to do ; and 
that, while every candid man must admit that even a slave might 
be happy enough with a good master, all human beings know that 
bad masters, and masters who disgrac'd the form they bore, were 
matters of experience and history, whose existence was as undis- 
puted as that of the slaves themselves .” — K 1. 

AGAINST “ STIGGTNSISM.” 

A small brochure, entitled Sunday under Three Heads ; As it is : 
As Sabbath Bills would make it : As it might be made , belongs to 
this date [1836], and was written under the pseudonym of “ Timothy 
Sparks,” with illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (“ Phiz ”). It 
constituted a strong plea for the poor, with direct reference to a 
Bill “ for the Better Observance of the Sabbath,” which the House 
of Commons had then recently thrown out by a small majority. 
Sir Andrew Agnew, M.P., brought about an agitation advocating 
the enforcement of more rigid laws respecting Sunday observance, 
and Dickens, believing that such legislation would press more 
heavily on the poor than on the rich, pleaded for the encouragement 
of excursions and other harmless amusements on the Sabbath, 
as likely to counteract the tendency towards certain forms of 
dissipation which plebeian Londoners might favour in the absence of 
innocent recreation. Thanks to the National Sunday League and 
kindred bodies, that which Dickens so warmly advocated in 1836 
has been in a measure realised, such as the opening of museums 
and picture-galleries on the Lord's Day. A copy of Sunday under 
Three Heads (now exceedingly scarce) has realised as much as £15 
by auction . — K 1. 



XI 


HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS 


A GENERAL SURVEY. 

The story of the homes and haunts of Charles Dickens begins 
really at Gad’s Hill and ends there. The house was the most prom- 
inent recollection of his early childhood. It is true that, bom at 
Landport, a suburb of Portsmouth, he left his birthplace when he 
was two years old, and always said that he remembered it and 
the nurse watching him through the kitchen window as he trotted 
about the small front garden, but his recollections of boyhood were 
more intimately associated w ith Chatham, Rochester, and London ; 
and it w r as his wish that he might be buried in the little graveyard 
under the wall of Rochester Castle, or rather Keep. There is a 
brass tablet to his memory in Rochester Cathedral, winch reads : 

Charles Dickens, 

Bom at Portsmouth , 1th of February , 1812 . 

Died at Gad's Hill Place , by Rochester , 9 th of June , 1870. 

Buried in Westminster Abbey. 

To connect his memory .with the scones in which his 
earliest and latest years were passed, and with the 
associations of Rochester Cathedral and its neighbour- 
hood, which extended over all his life, this tablet, with 
the sanction of the Dean and Chapter, is placed by his 
executors. 

The tablet is placed just under that of Richard Watts, a sixteenth- 
century worthy w r ho established a house where “ six poor travellers, 
not being rogues or proctors, may receive gratis for one night 
lodging, entertainment, and four pence each.” Dickensians will 
not need to be reminded of the association of this charity with the 
Christmas number of Household Words for 1854, 44 The Seven Poor 
Travellers.” 

From Chatham the Dickens family went to Bayham Street, 
Camden Town, thence to 4 Gower Street North, and a small tene- 
ment in Johnson Street, Somers Town. These were the bitter days 
of the blacking factory in the Strand, of the Marshalsea, Lant Street, 
and Little College Street. When the cloud lifted there oame his 

228 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


229 


experiences in the attorney’s office, the grappling with shorthand 
as a means of distinction, the reportership which he neld for two years 
in Doctors’ Commons — the old ecclesiastical and probate court — 
the Reporters’ Gallery at Westminster, the spare hours of self- 
improvement in the Reading Room at the British Museum. 

It has been already pointed out that as a newspaper reporter 
Dickens travelled all over the country. A year ago there was still 
to be seen at Bath the old screen which used to stand in the hall 
of the White Hart Hotel at that place. It contained the rules and 
regulations relating to passengers and luggage, and was dated 1st 
September 1830. The coaches by which the passengers travelled 
were owned by the firm of Moses Pickwick & Co., and it was thence 
that Dickens took the name of his most famous book. A photo- 
graph of the old screen was given in the Car , of 4th December 1907. 

During the year preceding the production of the first number of 
The Pickwick Papers , 1835, Dickens resided in Fumival’s Inn. And 
it was at 15 Fumival’s Inn that, following his marriage to Miss 
Hogarth on 2nd April 1836, Dickens and his bride began house- 
keeping. From Furnival’s Inn Mr. and Mrs. Dickens removed in 
the spring of 1837 to 48 Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square, where 
Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nicklehy were written. The success of 
these works made it possible for the young author and his wife to 
leave their little home in Doughty Street for 1 Devonshire Terrace, 
Regent’s Park, a handsome structure with a large walled garden. 
This was at the close of 1839. At Devonshire House Dickens lived for 
twelve years, and here many of his early friends came to know him, 
and much of his best work was written, including portions of Martin 
Chuzzlewit , A Christmas Carol , The Chimes , The Cricket on the 
Hearth t Dombey and Son , and David Copper field. It was here, 
too, that “ he realised in his own life some of David Copper- 
field’s disenchantment in the contrast between what he had 
expected in his married life and what he experienced.” When 
the idea of The Old Curiosity Shop came to him Dickens 
was, with his w ife, staying at 35 St. James's Square, Bath. They 
were visiting Landor, who, it is said, always declared that he 
intended to purchase the house in which liis friends had lodged, 
and burn it to the ground, that no mean associations should ever 
desecrate the birthplace of Littlo Nell. But, as Anna Leach has 
pointed out in a charmingly illustrated paper in Munseys Maga- 
zine y Dickens wrote most of The Old Curiosity Shop at IJroadstairs, 

making several journeys to London to hunt up places where he 
could put his characters. Ho w ont one day to that curiously-named 
City street, Bovis Marks, specially to look up a house for Sampson 
Brass. ‘ I got mingled up with the Jews of Houndsditch,* he 
said, 1 and came home in a cab ! ’ but he had created Miss Sally 
Brass on the way.” Dickens lived at two houses in Broadstairs, 
Lawn Villa and Fort House. 

In the autumn of 1851, Dickens removed from Devonshire 
Terrace to Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, where Bleak House 
was completed, whence Hard Times , Litue Dorrii , and A Tale of 



230 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE, 


Two Cities were given to the world, and where many of those plays 
which have become so famous were presented by the Dickens family 
and their friends. Gad’s Hill Place was purchased in 1855, but it 
was not till 1859 that Tavistock House was sold and a transfer 
was made of the last of the books and furniture to the new home 
of which Dickens had dreamed as a boy. 

Concerning what was written on the Continent authorities differ, 
but some part of The Old Curiosity Shop and The Chimes seems to 
have been produced at the Palazzo Peschiere, in Genoa, and it was 
in the garden of this Italian beauty spot that Martin Chvzdewit 
*was conceived, and that The Cricket on the Hearth was framed. 
Then The Battle of Life, Dombey and Son, and parts of Bleak House 
and David Copperfield were written amid the scenery of the lovely 
Rhone Valley — in Lausanne, Geneva, and Vevey. It remains to 
be added that Dickens spent three summers in Boulogne. But 
wherever he was humanity interested him above all else. Every- 
where he went he “ gathered up people for his books.” But, as 
Miss Leach observes, “ it is a little singular that he should have 
chosen to immortalise so many of the people and the haunts which 
he knew r in the days of his abject misery, when he was a sickly, 
uncared-for child.” 

dickens’s birthplace. 

The house in which the master novelist of the nineteenth century 
first saw r the light is now r 387 Commercial Road, Landport, Portsea, 
formerly known as Mile End Terrace. Dickens came into the world 
on Friday, 7th February 1812, and the boy’s name was registered 
“ Charles John Huffham Dickens.” Readers of David Copperfield 
will remember the autobiographer writing : “ if it should appear, 
from anything I may set down in this narrative, that I was a child 
of strong observation, or that as a man I have a strong memory of my 
childhood, I undoubtedly lay claim to both of these characteristics.” 
He told Forster in the early days of their friendship that “ he well 
remembered the small front garden in the house at Portsea, from 
which he was taken away when two years old.” Dickens recollected 
being watched by a nurse through a low kitchen w indow r as he strolled 
about with something to eat, a little elder sister alongside him. 
The novelist, in company with Forster, when treading again the 
infantine localities, often pointed out places first known in childish 
days, which were never effaced from memory. — Household Words , 
March 26, 1904. 

NO. 4 GOWER STREET NORTH. 

A house was taken at No. 4 Gower Street North, whither the 
family removed in 1823. This and the adjoining houses had only 
just been built. The rate-book shows that No 4 w as taken in the 
name of Mrs. Dickens, at an annual rental of £50, and that it w T as 
in the occupation of the Dickens family from Michaelmas 1823 to 
Lady Day 1824, they having apparently left Bayham Street at 



DICKENS'S BIRTH CLACK, COMMERCIAL ROAD, I.ANDPORT, 
From a water-colour by Paul Biathlon 


PORTSMOUTH 


2; 


232 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Christmas of the former year. The house, known in recent times as 
No. 147 Gower Street, was demolished about 1895, and an extension 
of Messrs. Maples premises now occupies the site. The Dickens 
residence had six small rooms, with kitchen in basement, each front 
room having two windows — altogether a fairly comfortable abode, 
but minus a garden. — K 3. 

SOMERS TOWN. 

In 1825 the elder Dickens removed to a small tenement in Johnson 
Street, Somers Town, a poverty-stricken neighbourhood even in 
„ those days. Johnson Street was then the last street in Somers 
Town, and adjoined the fields between it and Camden Town. It 
runs east from the north end of Seymour Street, and the house 
occupied by the Dickens family (including Charles, who had, of 
course, left his Lant Street 44 paradise ”) was No. 13, at the east end 
of the north side, if we may rely upon the evidence afforded by the 
rate-book. At that time the house was numbered 29, and rated at 
£20, the numbering being changed to 13 at Christmas 1825. In 
July of that year the name of the tenant is entered in the rate-book 
as Caroline Dickens, and so remains until January 1829, after which 
the house is marked “ Empty.” — K 3. 

THE ADELPHI. 

It will be remembered that David Copperfield, during his bachelor 
days, occupied apartments at Mrs. Crupps’, in Buckingham Street, 
Adelphi ; we learn, on the authority of Charles Dickens, the younger, 
that the author actually rented rooms here before he lived in 
Fumival’s Inn, and that these rooms were at the top of one of the 
end houses, overlooking the Thames. 44 Charles Dickens,” writes 
the novelist’s son, 44 if he lived in David Copperfield’s rooms — as 
I have no doubt he did — must have kept house on the top floor of 
No. 15 on the east side, the house which displays a tablet com- 
memorating its one-time tenancy by Peter the Great.” — K 1. 

furnival’s inn. 

Fumival’s Inn consisted of two courts of very considerable extent. 
The street front, erected about the time of Charles n., was a very 
fine brick building, adorned with pilasters, mouldings, and various 
other ornaments, and was attributed to Inigo Jones. Tins was 
pulled down and rebuilt in 1820, and it was in this new building that 
Charles Dickens was living when the Pickwick Papers were published. 
Except for this incident, few will regret the recent destruction of 
the 4 *new building.” The Gothic Hall, a still older structure than 
the front, was a plain brick building, with a small turret and two 
large projecting bow windows at the west end . — B 2. 

THE STRAND. 

When Charles Dickens first became acquainted with Mr. Vincent 
Dowling, editor of Bell's Life — or Sleepless Life , as he facetiously 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


233 


termed it, from its Latin heading, Nunquam Dormio * (“wide 
awake”) — he would generally stop at old Tom Goodwin’s oyster 
and refreshment rooms, opposite the office, in the Strand. On 
one occasion, Mr. Dowling, not knowing who had called, desired 
that the gentleman would leave his name, to be sent over to the 
office, whereupon young Dickens wrote — 


CHARLES DICKENS, 

Res ctrrectionist, 

In search of a subject. 

Some recent cases of body -snatching had then made the matter 
a general topic for public discussion, r ad Goodwin pasted up the 
strange address-card for the amusement of the medical students who 
patronised his oysters. It was still upon his wall when Pickwick 
had made Dickens famous, and the old man was never tired of 
pointing it out to those whom he was pleased to call his “ bivalve- 
demolishcrs ! ” — II 4. 

The “ Early Closing Act ” of 1872 not only put an end to places 
of so-called “ entertainment ” in the Metropolis as were of no sort 
of benefit to anyone save the proprietors and their employes, but 
also closed the doors of Evans’s Supper Rooms where admirably per- 
formed old English glees, and good songs by professional choristers, 
provided a concert lasting from nine until past one, which was a 
delight to those who, after dining at their club or en gar^on at the 
Piazza Coffee-House, The Cock Tavern, Simpson’s in the Strand, 
or elsewhere within easy distance of Co vent Garden, preferred 
spending an evening after tho fashion of King Cole with their 
tobacco, their glass, and a Welsh rarebit to finish with, to patronising 
any theatrical or other “ show ” that attracted so many. . . . Here, 
occasionally, came Thackeray, though more often he patronised 
the Cider Cellars, or remained in the smoking-room of the Garrick 
close at hand ; here came, now and again, Charles Dickens ;* and 
on a Wednesday night a majority of tho Punch staff, with Mark 
Lemon, would gather about the table in the corner, just to the right 
of tho platform, on which the piano stood. I am now describing 
the old room as I first knew it during my Eton holidays and during 
the earlier part of my Cambridge days. — B 3. 

Almost facing the Lyceum portico, in Wellington Street, there 
stood for forty years and more a rather gracious-looking, bow- 
windowed little structure, prominent yet half-retiring, of good 
architectural proportion in its modest way, and having a cosy, 
inviting air. Beside it was the st/age entrance, of the Gaiety 
Theatre, with a flaunting canvas transparency overhead, for which 
its little neighbour becamo a sort of Naboth’s vineyard. Not very 
long ago scaffoldings wore reared about it, and the windows were 




234 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


bricked up. It passed away unnoticed, and was absorbed into its 
garish neighbour without remark ; yet no London “ Oid Mortality ” 
could see its condition without a pang ; for it was onco the old, 
original “Office of Household Words ,” that favourite “weekly,” read 
by all as the inspired utterance of the gifted editor. . . . The little 
office has associations yet more interesting, from its connection 
with the cheeriest and most buoyant portion of Dickens’s life. From 
30th March 1850, the day he founded his journal, to 1859, when he 
extinguished it, the place became the scene of a very joyous, in- 
spiring portion of his life. Never was he so gaily exuberant, so 
full of vivacity, or so fertile in schemes. Here he planned, wrote, 
and saw' his friends and contributors ; and here, too, he had many a 
little supper after the play. — F 3. 

DOUGHTY STREET . 

Yates, in his Recollections and Experiences , recalls the Doughty 
Street of his day (and of Dickens's) as a “ broad, airy, wholesome 
street ; none of your common thoroughfares, to be rattled through 
by vulgar cabs and earth-shaking Pickford vans, but a self-included 
property, with a gate at each end, and a lodge with a porter in a 
gold-laced hat and the Doughty arms on the buttons of his mulberry- 
coloured coat, to prevent anyone, except with a mission to one 
of the houses, from intruding on the exclusive territory.” The 
lodges and gates have been removed since this wars written, and 
the porter in official garb disappeared with that exclusiveness 
and cpiietude which doubtless attracted Dickens to the spot more 
than sixty years ago. 

No. 48 Doughty Street (where his daughters Mary and Kate 
were bom) is situated on the east side of the street, and contains 
tw r elve rooms — a single-fronted, three-storied house, with a railed- 
in area in front and a small garden at the rear. A tiny room on 
the ground-floor, facing the garden, is believed to have been the 
novelist’s study, in which he wrote the latter portion of Pickwick , 
practically the whole of Oliver Twist and Nicholas Xickleby . — K 3. 

Life in lodgings, especially in a great city, and with young chil- 
dren, is not a very exhilarating state of existence, and it was not long, 
therefore, before Sydney Smith established himself in a small 
house, No. 8 Doughty Street, Mecklcnburgh Square. Tt is interest- 
ing to know r that Charles Dickens, a generation later, also lived 
in this street at the period when Pickwick was finished, and Oliver 
Twist and Nicholas Nickleby took the world by storm. Sydney 
Smith, always quick to recognise genius, was one of the first to 
admit the extraordinary fidelity and humour which distinguished 
the portraits which Dickens drew from life. In his published 
correspondence there are several kindly letters addressed to the 
young novelist, and the earliest of them was written to the inventor 
of Mr. Pickwick, when he was living in Doughty Street, not many 
doors off the house where, thirty-five years before, had been the 
home of the man who made the English people acquainted with 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


235 


the adventures of Dame Partington and the opinions of Peter 
Plymley. In that letter, Sydney Smith states that the Miss Berrys 
have commissioned him to invite Mr. Dickens to dinner at Richmond, 
in order that he may meet “ a Canon of St. Paul’s, the Rector of 
Combe-Florey, and the Vicar of Ilalberton — all equally well known 
to you,”— Ii 1. 

ELM COTTAGE, PETERSHAM. 

At Elm Cottage (later called Elm Lodge), Petersham, a pretty 
little rural retreat rented by Dickens in the summer of 1839, he 
frequently enjoyed the society of his friends — Maclise, Landseer, 
Ainsworth, Talfourd, and the rest — many of whom joined in athletic 
competitions organised by their energetic host in the extensive 
grounds, among other frivolities being a balloon club for children, 
of which Forster was elected president on condition that he sup- 
plied all the balloons. — K 3, 

DEVONSHIRE TERRACE. 

Dickens’s favourite home was No. 1 Devonshire Terrace, High 
Street, Marylcbonc, where, when in town, he lived for twelve years. 
Ho came here from 48 Doughty Street, at the end of 1839. He 
was then newly married, and in the heyday of the success which 
Pickwick , Nicholas Nickleby , and Oliver Twist had brought him. 
Here it was that his many friends among the distinguished men of 
the day were wont to gather — Macready, Clarkson Stanfield, 
Sir Edwin Landseer, Harrison Ainsworth, Talfourd, and Bulwer 
were all frequent and welcome guests at Devonshire Terrace. Here 
Dickens produced much of his best work, as the following items 
will show: 1840-1, Master Humphrey's Clock ; 1842, American 
Note s; 1843-4, Life and Adventures of Martin Chnzzlewit , and the 
Christmas Carol; 1844, The Chimes ; 1845, The Cricket on the 

Hearth ; 1846-52, Dealings with the Firm of Domhey and Son , Whole- 
sale , Retail, and for Exportation ; 1849-50, Perso?ial History of 

David Copper field. In November 1851, Dickens moved to Tavis- 
tock House, Tavistock Square, which had previously been the 
residence of Frank Stone, A.R.A., the father of Marcus Stone the 
Academician, Years later he said of his affection for his old homo : 
“ I seem as if I had plucked myself out of my proper soil when 
I left Devonshire Terrace, and could take root no more until I 
return to it.” — Westminster Gazette , September 16, 1896. 

Miss Dickens recalled her father’s study as “ a pretty room, 
with steps leading directly into the garden from it, and with one 
extra baize door to keep out all sounds and noise.” — K 1. 

Concerning Dickens’s studies, his eldest daughter tells us that 
they “ wore always choery, pleasant rooms, and alwavs, like him- 
self, the personification of neatness and tidiness. On the shelf 
of his writing-table were many dainty and useful ornaments — gifts 
from his friends or members of his family — and always a vase of 
bright and fresh flowers.” — K 3. 



236 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


A contemporary drawing of the house by Daniel Maclise, R.A., 
represents it as detached and standing in its own grounds, with 
a wrought-iron entrance -gate surmounted by a lamp -bracket ; 
the building consisted of a basement, two storeys, and an attic. 
There are only three houses in the Terrace, and immediately beyond 
is the burial-ground of St. Marylebone Church. No. 1 Devonshire 
Terrace is now semi-detached, having a line of taller residential 
structures on the southern side, while a portion of the high brick 
wall on the Terrace side has been replaced by an iron railing. The 
house itself has been structurally changed since Dickens’s days, 
Und has undergone enlargement. — W. R. Hughes, in A Week’s 
Tramp in Dickens Land . 

TAVISTOCK HOUSE. 

Tavistock House was for many years the residence of James 
Perry (editor of Dickens’s old paper, the Morning Chronicle , in its 
best days), and was then noted for its reunions of men of political 
and literary distinction. Eliza Cook, the poetess, also lived in 
Tavistock House when she left Grcenhithe, Kent, and Mary Russell 
Mitford (authoress of Our Village) became an honoured guest there 
in 1818. The house was afterwards divided, and the moiety, which 
still retained the name of Tavistock, became the home of Frank 
Stone. Dickens held the lease from the Duke of Bedford at a 
“ peppercorn ” ground-rent-. 

Tavistock House, with Russell House and Bedford House ad- 
joining (all the property of the Duke of Bedford and all demolished), 
stood at the north-east corner of the private, secluded Tavistock 
Square (named after the Marquis of Tavistock, father of the cele- 
brated William, Lord Russell), a short distance south of Euston 
Road, about midway between Euston Square and the aristocratic 
Russell Square, and railed off from Upper Woburn Place. 

The exterior of Tavistock House (pulled down in 1001) presented 
a plain brick structure of two storeys in height above the ground- 
floor, with attics in the roof, an open portico or porch being addckl by 
a later tenant ; it contained no less than eighteen rooms, including 
a drawing-room capable of holding more than three hundred persons. 
On the garden side, at the rear, the house had a bowed front- 
somewhat resembling that at Devonshire Terrace. . . . Dickens’s 
eldest daughter, in recalling her father’s study at Tavistock House, 
remembered it as being larger and more ornate than his previous 
sanctum, and describes it as “ a fine large room, opening into the 
drawing-room by means of sliding doors. When the rooms were 
thrown together,” she adds, “ they gave my father a promenade 
of considerable length for the constant indoor walking which formed 
a favourite recreation for him after a hard day’s writing.” Here were 
written, wholly or partly — Bleak House , Hard Times , Little Dorrit , 
A Tale of Two Cities , and Great Expectalions f his labours being 
agreeably diversified by private theatricals. ... In 1885 ana 
subsequently Tavistock House was occupied as a Jewish College. 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


237 


Tavistock House, with its neighbours Bedford House and Russell 
House, were razed to the ground about four years ago . — K 3. 

FORT HOUSE, BROADSTAIRS. 

Fort House, to which were attached pleasure grounds of about 
an acre in extent, was approached by a carriage drive, and the 
rental value in 1883 was £100 a year. This “airy nest.”(as he described 
his Broads tairs home) formed a conspicuous landmark in the locality, 
and proved a constant source of attraction to visitors by reason of 
its associations. Edmund Yates thus describes it as seen by him 
at a subsequent period : “ It is a small house without any large 



FORT HOUSE, liKOADSTMKS 

A favourite seaside resort of the novelist’s, popularly but 
erroneously known as “ Bleak House.” 

rooms, but such a place as a man of moderate means, with an im- 
moderate family of small children, might choose for a summer re- 
treat. The sands immediately below afford a splendid playground 
there is an abundant supply of never-failing ozone ; there is a good 
lawn, surrounded by borders well-stocked with delicious-smelling 
common English flowers, and there is, or was in those days, I imagine, 
ample opportunity for necossary seclusion. The room in which 
Dickens worked is on the first floor, a small, three-cornered slip, 
1 about the size of a warm bath,’ as he would have said, but with 
a large expansive window commanding a magnificent sea-view. 
His love for the place, and his gratitude for the good it always did 
him, are recorded in a hundred letters .” — K 3. 



238 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


FOLKESTONE. 

“ Boz,” who at the time he wrote his sketch “ Out of Town ” 
lived close to the South-Eastern line — his station was at Higliam . . . 
was frequently tempted to run down to the Pavilion, or pass through 
it, making a little flight to Paris. . . . The Pavilion Hotel being on 
the line to Paris, and hospitably at hand after stormy passages, 
“ Boz ” naturally had a tender interest in the place which had 
received him so kindly and bound up his wounds. It was one of the 
incidents of his high position and reputation, that at every hostelry 
he was made much of, with extra attention, accommodation, 
cookery, etc. — though I imagine that these attentions often found 
their way into the bills. But apart from this, he was deeply in- 
terested in the establishment — chiefly, as I have said, because it 
was associated with so much that was agreeable. — F 2. 

BOULOGNE. 

News reaches us that the house in Boulogne in which Dickens 
w r rote Little Dorr it has been pulled down. Dickens thought that 
this house had the most delightful of all the gardens attached to 
any house that he had inhabited on the Continent. These grounds 
still remain, and little English and French children are playing in 
them to-day — the pupils of the nuns known as the Ladies of 
Nazareth. They have built their chapel on the site of the house 
in which the author who loved little children lived and w rote. 
In another little habitation in the same neighbourhood Dickens 
stayed one summer, and should you visit Boulogne you will have 
shown you the dressing-room in which he finished Bleak Hov.se. The 
neighbours, by the way, thought Dickens every inch a Frenchman 
until he opened his mouth. You cannot pass through Boulogne 
without stumbling over a pile of Dickens’s reminiscences. — The 
Bookman (New York), vol. ix. 

“ Boz’s ” sketch of “ Our French Watering-Place,” an account of 
his residence at Boulogne, is one of his most charming efforts. He 
was there in the years 1853 and 1856. The old “ High Town ” had 
for him an extraordinary attraction — as, indeed, it must have for 
anyone with a feeling for the old w orld. He pitched his camp, not 
by the bustling port, but high up on the very crest of the hill, on the 
downs, well beyond the Old Town, and in one of those pleasant 
French country-houses so complimentarily styled “ chateaux.” 

Last year [1904], being in Boulogne, I set forth to sec if I could find 
this pleasant retreat ; but no one knew of it, or even that Dickens 
had been in any way associated with the place. This is not sur- 

{ )rising, as it was nigh half a century ago. I had even heard that 
t had been partially levelled or rebuilt. But a friendly English 
bookseller, living high up, in the Grande Rue, knew all about the 
matter, and put me on the right track. I took my wav, accord- 
ingly, to the left of the Old Town, struck out of the Boulevard 
M&nette, past the coquettish little dancing-garden known as the 
Tintilleries, went on higher and yet higher, until I reached the 



Still 


iiui 


sushi 


TIIK HOUSE, HTRXIVM.'s INN NO. IS DOUUHTV STREET 

The earliest homo of the novel’ll after quit- Fir^t house after marriage. Con 
ting his father’s, 18:13 -30. Here Sketches by eluding numbers of Pickwick, Twist 
Hoz and un*"t. of Pickin' -k were written and A ickbby written here, 1837—10 


TAVISTOCK HOUSE, TAVISTOCK SQUARE NO. 0 HYDE DARK PLACE 

Dickens lived here from 18f>0 till J8C>0. Weak The last temporary residence, Nov. 
House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit , and A Tale of I860- May 1870, in London, where 
Two Cities were written here most of Edwin Drood was written 


SOME OF DICKENS S LONDON HOMES 





240 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Rue Beaurepaire, where I was told I would assuredly find the 
ch&teau. Before me was a rude stone wall, built of cobbles, 
and within the stone wall was “ the property ” of M. Beaucourt, 
“Boz’s” landlord, and whom he has described so humorously. 
But the chateau itself, where was it ? There were two chateaux, 
both occupied by Dickens at different visits, and bearing different 
names. The first was gone. Instead, here was a huge monastic 
building, with an imposing church or chapel in front, of a 
Gothic kind, whose windows were filled with stained glass. Now 
it seemed all silent, dusty, and deserted — “ shut up,’* in fact ; 
and so it was, as a little mean advertisement affixed to the 
wall told us — “ Maison a Vendre ou a Louer.” The late Law 
of Suppression had been at work here, and the good nuns and 
their protegees had been ejected. The building seemed of recent 
erection, and must have cost much. But, again, where was the 
chateau ? The convent “ stood in its own grounds/’ There was 
a large growth of trees rich in foliage at the back, on the rising hill, 
planted over fifty years ago, before “ Box’s ” tenancy. But at the 
comer, nestling among them, I noted a modest, unpretending 
building — large villa rather than chateau — yellow all over, with a 
triangular pediment, its windows, three in a row, garnished with 
green “ jalousies.” All the ground about it, a large field of a couple 
of acres, sloping to the road, formed “ the property ” or estate of 
which the admirable Beaucourt (“ M. Loyal ” in the sketch) was 
so proud. — F 2. 

GENOA. 

Early in August 1844 [during his stay in Italy], Dickens had 
rented rooms in the Palazzo Peschiere for his winter residence ; 
it being the largest palace in Genoa on hire, standing on elevated 
ground in the outskirts of the town and surrounded by its own 
gardens, and to this “ Palace of the Fish-Ponds ” he transferred 
himself and his belongings at the end of September. — K 1. [See 
section “ On the Continent.”] 

gad’s fclLL. 

We come now to note Dickens’s change of residence from Tavis- 
tock House, Tavistock Square, to Gad’s Hill Place, Kent, or, as the 
great man himself always wrote it, with that amplitude and un- 
mistakable clearness which made him wTite, not only the day of 
the month, but the day of the week, in full at the head of his letters — 
Oad } 8 Hill Place , Higham, by Rochester , Kent. How he came to live 
here is pleasantly told by a friend ( Daily News , 15th June 1870) : 

“ Though not bom at Rochester, Mr. Dickens spent some portion 
of his boyhood there ; and was wont to tell how his father, the late 
Mr. John Dickens, in the course of a country ramble, pointed out 
to him as a child the house at Gad’s Hill Place, saying, ‘ There, my 
boy, if you work and mind your book, you will, perhaps, one day 
live in a house like that.’ This speech sunk deep, and in after- 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


241 


years, and in the course of his many long pedestrian rambles through 
the lanes and roads of the pleasant Kentish country, Mr. Dickens 
came to regard this Gad’s Hill House lovingly, and to wish himself 
its possessor. This seemed an impossibility. The property was so 
held that there was no likelihood of its ever coming into the market ; 
and so Gad’s Hill came to be alluded to jocularly, as representing a 
fancy which was pleasant enough in dreamland, but would never 
be realised. 

“ Meanwhile the years rolled on, and Gad’s Hill became almost 
forgotten. Then a further lapse of time, and Mr. Dickens felt a 
strong wish to settle in the country, and determined to let Tavistock 
House. About this time, and by the strangest coincidences, his 
intimate friend and close ally, Mr. W. H. Wills, chanced to sit next 
to a lady at a London dinner-party, w ho remarked, in the course of 
conversation, that a house and grounds had come into her possession 
of which she wanted to dispose. The reader will guess the rest. 
The house was in Kent, was not far from Rochester, had this and 
that distinguishing feature which made it like Gad’s Hill and like 
no other place ; and (he upshot of Mr. Wills’s dinner- table chit-chat 
with a lady whom he had never met before was, that Charles Dickens 
realised the dream of his youth and became the possessor of Gad’s 
Hill.” The purchase was made in the spring of 1856 . — H 4. 

Dickens paid the purchase-money for Gad’s Hill Place on 14th 
March 1856 ; it was a Friday, and, handing the cheque to Wills, 
he observed: “ Now, isn’t it an extraordinary thing — look at the 
day — Friday ! I have been nearly drawing it half a dozen times, 
when the lawyers have not been ready, and here it comes round 
upon a Friday as a matter of course.” He frequently remarked 
that all the important events of his life happened to him on a Friday. 
Referring to this transaction, Mrs. Lynn Linton, in My Literary 
Life says : “ We sold it cheap, £1700, and we asked £40 for the 
ornamental timber. To this Dickens and his agent made an objec- 
tion ; so wo had an arbitrator, who awarded us £70, which was in 
the nature of a triumph.” The property comprised eleven acres 
of land, a considerable portion of which Dickens subsequently 
acquired through private negotiations with the respective owners. 
Not many w r ceks had elapsed after the death of Dickens when 
Gads Hill Place was disposed of by public auction. The house, 
with eight acres of meadow land, was virtually bought in by Charles 
Dickens, the younger, at the much -enhanced price of £7500. For 
a time the novelist’s eldest son made it his home. After being a 
considerable time on the market, the property was purchased in 
1879 by Captain (afterwards Major) Austin F. Budden, then of 
the 12th Kent Artillery Volunteers, and Mayor of Rochester from 
that year until 1881. In 1889 Gad's Hill Place narrowly escaped 
destruction by fire. It is the old story — a leakage of gas, a naked 
light, and an oxplosion ; happily, Major Budden’ s supply of hana- 
grenades did their duty and saved the building. Shortly after- 
wards the house and accompanying land were again in the market. 




HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


243 


and in 1890 a purchaser was found in the Hon. Francis Law Latham, 
Advocate-General at Bombay. — K 3. 

Gad’s Hill was notorious for robbers in Shakespeare’s time. The 
allusion here is to the incident recorded in King Henry IV Act i. 
Scene 2, where Poins says, addressing Falstaff, Prince Henry, and 
the others — 

“ But, my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning by four o’clock 
early, at Gad’s Hill. There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with 
rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses ; I 
have vizards for you all ; you have horses for yourselves.” 

At Dickens’s request, this quotation was handsomely illuminated 
by Owen Jones, and placed in the entrance hall at Gad’s Hill. — K 1. 

I have just returned from a pilgrimage (many a pilgrim has gone 
to a shrine with a far less reverent joy) to Gad’s Hill Place. The 
present owner, Mr. Latham, has greatly improved, without altering 
the general appearance of, the home of Dickens. He lias introduced 
more light and air both into the house and grounds, developing 
the capabilities of the place, after the example of those who preceded 
him ; but there is no material change. The dear old study remains 
as it was [1897], with the dummy books on the door and on part 
of the walls, bearing the quaint titles which Dickens invented for 
them : 

Kant's Eminent Humbugs , 10 vols. The Gunpowder Magazine . 

Drowscy's Recollections of Nothing. J.ady God mi , on her Horse. Evi- 
dences of Christianity, by King Henry the Eighth. Hayward's Guide 
to Refreshing' Sleep . Strutt's Walk. Malthus' Nursery Songs. Cats' 
Lives , in 9 volumes. History of the Middling Ages. Five Minutes in 
China Swallows , on Emigration. History of a Short Chancery Suit , in 
19 volumes. A. Carpenter's Bench of Bishops. Butcher's Suetonius. 
Cribb's edition of Miller . 

In the garden is the tiny grave, tombstone, and epitaph of “ Dick,” a 
beloved canary- - - 

This is the Grave of 
DICK, 

The Best of Birds, 

Born at Broad st a irs. Midsummer, 1851. 

Died at Gad's Hill Place, October 14, 1866. 

— . // 3. 

ROCHESTER. 

Longfellow, Dickens, and Forster are associated with Rochester 
Castle by an odd and awkward incident. Both were about to show 
their poet friend the old building, when, as Forster says, in his best 
oracular way, “ they wore met by one of those prohibitions which 
are the wonder of visitors and the shame of Englishmen. We 
overleaped gates and barriers, and, sotting at defiance repeated 
threats of all the terrors of the law coarsely expressed to us by the 
custodian of the place, explored minutely the Castle ruins.” The 



244 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


only explanation would seem to be that charges for admission were 
made . — F 2. 

The evening of a summer’s day is the best time to enter Rochester. 
At such times a golden haze spreads over the city and the river, 
and renders both a dream of beauty. The gilt ship on the Guildhall 
blazes like molten metal ; the “ moon-faced clock ” of the Corn 
Exchange is correspondingly calm ; and the wide, hospitable en- 
trance halls of the older inns begin to glow with light. You should 
have walked a good fifteen miles or more on the day of your first 
coming into Rochester, and then you will appreciate aright the 
mellow comforts of its old inns. But not at once will the connois- 
seur of antiquity and first impressions who thus enters the old city 
repair him to his inn. He will turn into the Cathedral precincts, 
underneath the archway of Chertsey’s Gate, and I hope he will not 
already have read Edwin Drood, because an acquaintance with that 
tale quite spoils one’s Rochester, and leaves an ineffaceable mark 
of a modem, sordid tragedy upon the hoary stones of Cathedral, 
Castle, and Close. It is as though one had come to the place after 
reading the unrelieved brutality of a newspaper report. Rochester 
demands a romance of the Ivanhoe type ; chivalry or necessities 
of State should have ennobled slaughter here ; a tale of secret murder 
for private ends vulgarises and tarnishes the place, especially when 
it is told with all the wealth of local allusion that Dickens, who knew 
it so well, employs. 

If, therefore, the traveller of whom I have spoken comes to 
Rochester without first having read Edwin I)rood> his will be a visit 
singularly fortunate, and unprejudiced by the sordid mysteries ol 
that unworthy story. But should he have delved deep into the 
mystery, the sham Gothic sentiment and maudlin love-making 
of that unfinished work, the beauty and charm of Rochester will be 
to him, if not a sealed book, at least a smirched page. The stranger 
who comes to Rochester and knows it already from Dickens’s ulti- 
mate story ; who adventures into the Close, and from the open 
west door of the Cathedral peers up the fino perspective of the nave, 
feels that those holy stones have been done a wrong, that they have 
witnessed a crime, and that this Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew 
should be reconsecrated. This is no belittling of Dickens or his 
works. The hand of the master had not lost its cunning when 
he wrought upon the manuscript in his study at Gad’s Hill Place 
on the other side of the river, at the back of beyond. But he, 
no less than other great men, had his limitations. His province 
was large ; he could harp upon the domestic affections, and the 
suburbs wept copiously when he willed it so ; but though his 
frontiers were so far-reaching, and his following so whole-heartedly 
with him, he could not successfully overpass them into the 
smaller and more exclusive states wherein men wrote from hard- won 
knowledge of the Liberal Arts. 

That one should feel so strongly on the subject of coupling 
Rochester with Edwin Drood need be no offence to hero-worshippers, 
of whom Dickens has still a goodly store. It will be but this much 




NO. 1 DEVONSHIRE TERRACE 
London residence of Charles Dickens, from 1839 to 1861 
From a drawing by D. Maclise , R.A, 

245 





246 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


to many — a tribute to those descriptive and narrative powers he 
wielded, that clothe his characters with so great an air of reality 
that their deeds or misdeeds can even cast a lasting smirch upon so 
fair a city, or ennoble a spot the most sordid and common-place. 
But it is singularly unfortunate for those who prefer murders 
decently old and historical that the great novelist should have thus 
brought the atmosphere of the police-court into the grave and 
reverend calm of this ancient city. 

My traveller, happily unversed in all this, will gaze upon the 
Cathedral and the Castle Keep, where the rooks are circling to rest, 
and coming again into the High Street will turn to his inn, where 
appetite, sharpened by pedestrianism and fresh air, may be as well 
appeased now as in those days of heavy eating and no less heavy 
drinking, . when seventy-two coaches passed through Rochester 
daily, and the trains that thunder across the Medway were un- 
dreamed of. The inns of Rochester receive, as may well be supposed, 
many pilgrims who, for love of Chaucer, of Shakespeare, of Dickens, 
come hither, not alone from all parts of England, but from America 
and all the foreign-speaking countries of the earth. — William Owen, 
in Architecture. 

CRAVESEND. 

The following unpublished letter from the pen of Charles Dickens 
to a one-time Mayor of Gravesend was only saved from the liames 
by a fortunate accident. Since then, for some forty years, it has 
lain almost forgotten until recently, when it was again brought 
into the light of day. The paper on which it is written is in excellent 
condition, and the writing, in the familiar blue ink, is still perfectly 
legible, except that in some words the finer lines have faded. The 
latter is dated from — 

“ Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, London, W.C., 

“ Monday , twenty-fourth October 1859. 

“ Dear Sir, — As I have to bo at Oxford to-morrow I cannot 
possibly have the pleasure of receiving you, and the gentleman 
associated with you, at the time you propose. If you will do me the 
favour to address a note to me at Gad’s Hill on Saturday, making 
me acquainted with the nature of the business on which you wish 
to see me, I will promptly reply to it. Referring to a requost made 
to me from Gravesend some time ago, I think it not improbable 
that you may contemplate asking me to read there. Should this 
be so, I am bound to inform you at once that it is wholly out of the 
question, and that my compliance is not in any reason possible. 
I receive so many similar requests that even to answer them, how- 
ever briefly, is often, I assure you, a serious interference with the 
pursuits of my life. -—Faithfully yours, Charles Dickens. 

“ E. Gregory, Esquire.” 

The delicate sarcasm and the carefully chosen phrases, capable 
of so many interpretations, make the letter of the greatest interest 



HIS HOMES AND HAUNTS. 


247 


to Dickensians, even if it did not throw considerable light on the 
antipathy that is generally believed to have existed between Dickens 
and the town and townsmen of Gravesend. When this antipathy 
started, or what first gave rise to it, or, in other words, who first gave 
the cause for offence, it is impossible to say ; but there does not 
appear to be much room for doubt that some more or less defined 
ill-feeling existed. 

Dickens was perfectly familiar with Gravesend, and when going to 
London he invariably walked or drove from Gad’s Hill to Gravesend 
Central Station. Yet, strangely enough, the town scarcely appears 
by name in the novels, and when it does it is with the merest mention. 
This may havo been regarded, even in 1859, as an offence by the 
Gravesenders of the time ; or the scarcely veiled caricature of the 
town as Muggleton -Dickens was living at Chalk at the time he 
wrote — may have had still more to do with it. But to those who 
know the circumstances there appears little doubt that this refusal 
of a favour before it was asked tlnew the novelist himself, though 
not necessarily his works, into disfavour in Gravesend. And pro- 
bably the “ feeling ” engendered was increased by the know ledge 
that Dickens's guess was a correct one, as no record is available 
of any further correspondence on the subject. 

The friendly and masked raillery of the early chapters of Pickwick 
were regarded as ill-natured. Quite likely the streets of the town 
were disappointing. They were not the “ streets ” Dickens 
craved for so consistently. At that time they were narrow and dirty, 
and the town was filled with day-trippers, who, judging from the 
early guide-books. left, the interest of the city behind them without 
acquiring that of the country. Some of the characters in Pickwick , 
in Great Expectations , and in others of the novels are taken from life 
around Gravesend, but they do not enter the town itself — in fact, 
they never get nearer to it than Chalk, then cut off by nearly a mile 
of fields . — Daily Chronicle , July 31, 1909. 



XII 


DICKENS’S LONDON 

To map out Dickens’s country would be inordinately to map 
out London ; and for that literary-geographical task a directory 
and not a magazine article would be requisite. If one could depict 
the London scenes associated with Dickens’s offspring, one would 
have a Topographical Survey that would vie with the masterpieces 
of the Ordnance Department. One might start with Captain 
Sim Tappertit, from Paper Buildings, and go north, west, south, 
and east, finding hardly a street or square or court untrodden onco 
of the clan of Dickens. One may hear much good and ill of Fur- 
nival’ s Inn; but has it any chronicle better than that here (in 
the first months of his married life) Dickens wrote most of Pick’ 
wick ? Hungerford Stairs may now be forgotten in Charing Cross 
Station. But the name is in the sure keeping of David Copperfidd. 
Rumour has it that Lincoln’s Inn Fields is no longer what it was ; 
but the pilgrim will not forget No. 58, where Forster lived, and 
where Dickens read the MS. of The Chimes to Carlyle, Maclise, 
and others, and where, too, Mr. Tulkinghorn, of Bleak House , had 
his abode. Much minor poetry has been written at or near Fountain 
Court, but none so enduring as the unversified episode of Tom 
Pinch and Ruth. The Wooden Midshipman may be hard to find, 
but the thirsty explorer in the City may mention Captain Cuttle 
and perchance be guided to the Minories. In fact, anywhere, 
from Clerkenwell Green, where the Artful Dodger educated Oliver 
Twist in the way his right hand should go, to the Spaniards’ Inn 
at Hampstead, where Mr. Pickwick enjoyed tea ; from Bow Bells, 
where to-day another Domhey and Son succeed without a Mr. Carker 
as manager, to that far suburban west that may almost be said to 
reach to Stoke Pogis, where not alone lies Gray, but also (in the 
pious wish of many) Wilkins Micawber, who sighed, on one occa- 
sion, to be laid with the rude forefathers of that particular hamlet 
— anywhere, I repeat, one might wander, with surety of being 
in Dickens-land, of coming upon some house, court, street, square, 
or locality associated with the personages of that marvellous tragi- 
comedy, the “ world ” of Dickens . — S 7. 

Many places of London have gained an altogether undeserved 
reputation as scenes of Dickens incidents. The real difficulties 

248 



DICKENS’S LONDON. 


249 


of taking a tour through Dickens’s London are many. First, some 
of the most famous scenes of the novels have no originals. In 
other cases the originals have been swept away, leaving no traces 
of their existence behind. Thirdly, amalgamations of several 
existing places were taken to form a composite picture for the novel, 
or the originals were altered to fit the exigencies of the story. But 
last, and of greater importance, are those places which remain 
and are easily distinguishable as genuine originals of scenes in 
Dickens’s London. 

In Lincoln’s Inn, at the east side of New Square, we find Chichester 
Rents, running into Chancery Lane, which is to be identified as 
the court in which, in the house nearest Lincoln’s Inn, on the south 
side, Krook kept his rag and bottle shop. Chichester Rents 
has recently been rebuilt, but while it stood it was impossible 
to mistake Krook’s house, so closely did its position tally with 
the description in the book. Soho Square, where Esther and 
Caddy Jelly by met to talk, is still a quiet place in the neighbour- 
hood of Newman Street. But Thavies Inn is a vastly different 
place from the dwelling-place of the Jellyby family. Bell Yard, 
too, now a thoroughfare running down by the Law Courts, is com- 
pletely altered from the narrow alley where “ Charley ” kept a home 
for her little brother and sister, and where she was found by Mr. 
Jamdyce. There is one other scene from Bleak House which can 
be identified, though now altered beyond recognition. This is 
the burial-ground where Captain Ilawdon was buried, and at the 
gates of which Lady Dedlock died. It opened out of Russell 
Court, which ran between Catherine Street and Drury Lane. These 
have now been pulled down and their place taken by a broad 
thoroughfare. 

If London associations in Chuzzletvit be few, there is one site 
which stands out with a wonderful prominence, and that is Fountain 
Court in the Temple. Coming to David Copperfield , there are 
certain places which stand out as absolutely identified, many 
that are uncertain, and several that have entirely disappeared. 
Gone are the King’s Bench Prison, Hungerford Market, and Hunger- 
ford Stairs, the market being below where is now Charing Cross. 
In Hungerford Market dwelt Mr. Dick during Miss Trotwood’s 
stay in David’s chambers, and here Mr. Peggotty kept a room 
until such time as his dream should come true. Hungerford Stairs 
— now completely vanished, banished by the Embankment and 
Bridge — saw the departure of the Micawbers. In Gray’s Inn — 
Gray’s Inn Colfee- House, by the way, is gone— lived Traddles 
with " the dearest girl,” at No. 2 Holborn Court. David Copperfield’s 
chambers in Buckingham Street, Strand, are still unaltered. They 
consisted of a little half-blind entry where you could see hardly 
anything, a little stone-blind pantry where you could see nothing 
at all, a sitting-room, and a bedroom. 

One of the most prominent places in Little Dorrit has disappeared 
—I mean the Marshalsea Prison, which has gone the way of the 
King’s Bench and Fleet Prisons. Even now, however, anybody 



250 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


going down the High Street, Borough, and seeking Angel Place 
will find the spot where Little Dorrit was born and lived for many 
years, the Marshalsea Wall being still in existence. Another 
place to be identified is Little Dorrit’s church — St. George the 
Martyr — also in the Borough High Street, in the vestry of which 
she slept on a bed of cushions, with a book of registers for her 
pillow, -when shut out of prison for the night. — Charles W. Dickens, 
in Munset/s Magazine , September 1902. 

Reading Mr. Hughes’s Tramp in Dickens Land the other day 
I noted that its author observes that he failed to locate several 
of the places made use of by Dickens in his Bleak House , especially, 
as I understood him, the home of Snagsby. With your permission 
1 will relate what I recollect of the matter. Of course, I cannot 
vouch for the truth of the tradition ; but I give it for what it is 
worth. 

Bleak House was published in 1853 ; and about 1857 or 1858 (and 
for some ten years afterwards) I was employed at the Athenamm 
office in Look’s Court, Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane. (Dickens 
calls it Cook’s Court, but he often altered a letter.) There is, 
however, no doubt about the locality of the court where Chadband 
took tea with Mrs. Snagsby, for Dickens describes the house as 
being situated on the east side of Chancery Lane, in a court running 
northwards out of Cursitor Street. At the time that I om alluding 
to it was a common tradition in Look’s Court that No. 18, on the 
eastern side, was the identical house which Dickens had in his 
mind's eye. It was inhabited by a law stationer and writer, who 
was then believed by some to be the “ original ” of the Mr. Snagsby 
of Bleak House. 

About four doors from the south-western corner of Took’s Court 
was the “ Sponging-House,” or lock-up for debtors, called by 
Dickens “ Coavinscs — I think that the name of the proprietor 
was Sloman. The long garden of the house was covered over 
by an iron trellis-work, forming a sort of cage in which the debtors 
could take exercise without escaping from the custody of the 
bumbailiff. At least, so I understood it at the time. The site of 
Coavinses is now covered by the Imperial Club. Snagsby’s house 
is very old, and is likely soon to be demolished. 

The original of Miss Elite could often be seen in Chancery Lane, 
playfully tapping the white-wigged gentlemen on the back with 
her walking-stick. This was, of course, before the Law Courts 
were built in the Strand, and when the Chancery Courts were a 
couple of hovels built on the vacant space to be seen immediately 
you walked through the gateway into Lincoln’s Inn (western side of 
Chancery Lane). — W. J. Fitzsimmons, in the Times , October 23, 1895. 

The clearances that have been in progress during the last three 
years in that inconceivably dirty and overcrowded quarter of 
Central London — Clare Market — are presently to be pushed forward 
with greater rapidity. A great number of crazy tenements, old, 
but of little interest, have already disappeared, and just lately the 



DICKENS’S LONDON. 


251 


last of the old bulk-shops was closed. This was a tottering and 
cavernous old place in Gilbert’s Passage, leading from Portugal 
Street directly into Clare Market, and was occupied at the last by 
a poulterer. The “ bulk ” which gave these shops their distinctive 
name was a fixed board, or bench running along the frontage, outside 
the shutters, accompanied by an overhanging pent. The nearest 
resemblance Jo a bulk to be seen in modem shops is the slab seen 
projecting from the frontage of a fishmonger’s. That, however, 
is generally of marble. On the hard and unpliant beds afforded 
by the wooden bulks were wont to sleep the authors, poets, and 
journalists of the 4 4 good old times,” when Grub Street hacks earned 
barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. Not that genius 
was a stranger to the bulk as a bed, for Richard Savage often couched 
on one for the night, to be rudely awakened by indignant shop- 
keepers in the early morn and damned for a dissipated rogue, and 
Nat Lee passed from a drunken sleep to death on a bulk in Clare 
Market — perhaps on this very spot. 

Close by, and shortly to be removed in the course of these im- 
provements, is that “Old Curiosity Shop,” to which every ardent 
soul learned in Dickens lore has made pilgrimage. Although it has 
been said this tumble-down tenement is not actually the one Dickens 
had in his mind, yet the tradition is indestructible, and some years 
ago, when it was in imminent danger of suddenly collapsing like 
a pack of cards, Mr. Bruce Smith, the eminent scene-painter, was 
called in at Christmas time to exercise his skill in carpentry on it, 
for no other reason than that of preserving a Dickens landmark. 1 — 
Daily News , December 1, 1890. 

In his admirable little book. Rambles in Dickens Ixind (S. T. 
Frcemantle, 1899), Mr. Robert Allhut outlines a series of ten 
“ rambles,” five of which are in Dickens's London : (1) From 
Charing Cross to Lincoln’s Inn Fields; (2) from Lincoln’s Inn to 
the Mansion-House ; (\\) from Charing Cross to Thavies Inn, Holborn 
Circus; (4) from Holborn Circus to Tottenham Court Road; and 
(5) from the Bank of England to Her Majesty’s Theatre (now His 
Majesty’s Theatre). The book is cleverly illustrated by Helen M. 
James. We give an indication of the chief places of interest noted 
en route , omitting the inns, these being dealt with separately : 

(1) In Craven Street, Strand, was the residence of Mr. Brownlow, 
the benevolent friend of Oliver Twist. Near by was Hungerford 
Stairs, where stood the famous blacking factory. In Hungerford 
Market, on the site of which Charing Cross Station is built, was the 
chandler’s shop over which Mr. Peggotty slept on the night of his 
first arrival in London. Bed ford bury was the locality of Tom- 
all- Alone’s. Covent Garden Theat re was selected by David Copper- 
field as his initial place of entertainment in the great city. ^ St. 
Martin’s Hall, where Dickens gave his first series of paid readings, 

1 Steps were being taken in the spring of 1910 for the preservation 
of this old landmark; but its claim to be the original of the Old 
Curiosity Shop is quite unfounded. 



252 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


was burnt down, supplanted by the Queen’s Theatre, and this, in 
turn, was converted into the Clergy Co-operative Stores. Strand 
Lane is associated with David Copperfield’s visits to the Old Roman 
Bath, in which he had “ many a cold plunge.” In Norfolk Street 
were the lodgings of Mrs. Lirriper, whilst near by, in the Church of 
St. Clement Danes, we have the scene of Mrs. Lirriper’s wedding. 

(2) In Lincoln’s Inn Hall the case of “ Jamdyce Jarndyce ” 
dragged “ its slow length along.” In Old Square were the offices of 
Messrs. Kenge & Carboy. Breams Buildings mark the northern 
boundary of the former site of Symond’s Inn, where Mr. Vholes 
•had his chambers, and Richard Carstone and his young wife Ada 
resided. In Bell Yard lodged Gridley, “ the man from Shropshire,” 
and Neckett, the servitor of Coavinses. “Bell Yard” forms the 
heading of a touching and beautiful chapter (xv.) of Bleak House. 
Opposite Temple Bar was the old building of Child’s Bank, the 
Tellson’s Bank of A Tale of Two Cities. Fountain Court was the 
meeting-place of Tom Pinch and his sister Ruth, and in Garden 
Court, beyond, Mr. Pip and his friend Herbert Pocket had residence. 
In Pump Court were in all probability situated the chambers where 
Tom Pinch was installed as librarian by the mysterious Mr. Fips, 
and Martin Chuzzlewit gave the virtuous Mr. Pecksniff a “ warm 
reception.” In Paper Buildings Sir John Chester had his residential 
chambers, and in the vicinity were the chambers of Mr. Stryver, 
K.C. Goldsmith’s Buildings probably overlook the “ dismal church- 
yard ” referred to in Our Mutual Friend. Into the retirement of 
Clifford’s Inn Passage Mr. Rokesmith withdrew from the noise of 
Fleet Street, with Mr. Boffin, when offering that gentleman his 
services as secretary. Near St. Dunstan’s Church was the pump at 
which Hugh, from The Maypole, sobered himself on one occasion 
prior to visiting Sir John Chester. Probably Toby Veck knew that 
pump. Bouverie Street is full of Dickens memories, containing 
as it does the offices of the Daily News and Messrs. Bradbury & 
Evans (now Bradbury, Agnew, & Co.). In Hanging Sword Alley 
Mr. Jeremiah Cruncher had his apartments. In Wine Office Court 
is the old inn where it is thought Charles Darnay, on his acquittal, 
was persuaded by Sydney Carton to dine in his company. In the 
days of Barnaby Budge Farringdon Market was known as Fleet 
Market. The Memorial Hall in Farringdon Street stands on the 
site of the old Fleet Prison. La Belle Sauvage will be familiar to 
readers of Pickwick. At a tavern in Ludgate Hill Mr. Arthur 
Clennam rested on his arrival from Marseilles. By St. Paul’s Ralph 
Nickleby corrected his watch on his way to the London Tavern. 
Dean’s Court, formerly Doctors’ Commons, is referred to by Sam 
Weller. The offices of Spenlow & Jorkins were in this locality. 
Wood Street, Cheapside, is associated with Great Expectations. 
The Bells of St. Mary-le-Bow are mentioned in Dombey and Son. 
In the City Court attached to the Guildhall was tried the memorable 
breach of promise case of “ Bardell v. Pickwick.” 

(3) The situation of what was once Jacob’s Island, a place associ- 
ated with the adventures of Oliver Twist, may be easily reached from 



DICKENS'S LONDON. 


253 


the railway station in Spa Road, Bermondsey. At the end of 
Queen Street is the locality of Quilp’s Wharf. Mr. Wilfer suggested 
the neighbourhood of Trinity House, Tower Hill, as a waiting-place 
for Bella on the occasion of their “ innocent elopement ” to Green- 
wich. In Little Dorrit Southwark Bridge is referred to as the 
Iron Bridge. Near to Bartholomew Close were the offices of Mr. 
Jaggers. Smithfield and the Old (now New) Bailey recall the first 
arrival in London of Mr. Pip. Newgate was the scene of Charles 
Darnay’s trial in A Tale of Two Cities . Near Clerkenwell Green 
Oliver Twist became enlightened as to the business of Charley 
Bates and the Artful Dodger. In Hatton Yard was the police 
court where Oliver Twist was taken on a charge of theft. In Field 
Lane, now “improved” away, was the abode of Fagin the Jew. 
In Bleeding Hart Yard was the factory of Messrs. Doyce and 
Clennam, and here Mr. and Mrs. Plornish lived. Mrs. Jellyby and 
family lived in Thavies Inn. 

(4) Mr. Pip lived with Herbert Pocket in Barnard’s Inn. In 
Furnival’s Inn Dickens had bachelor apartments and lived for a time 
after his marriage. Staple Inn was the favourite summer promenade 
of the meditative Mr. Snagsby, and Mr. Grewgious had chambers 
here. In South Square, Gray’s Inn, may be found the upper 
chambers occupied by Mr. Traddles and his wife Sophy. The 
offices of Mr. Pickwick’s legal adviser, Mr. Perker, were also in Gray’s 
Inn. In Kingsgate Street “ Poll ” Sweedlepipe had his business 
location, and Mrs. Gamp had lodgings. In Southampton Street 
lodgings were taken by Mr. Grewgious, for Miss Twinkleton and 
Rosa, of the redoubtable Mrs. Billickin. [In Queen Square, Great 
Ormond Street, we come into touch with a foundation — the Chil- 
dren’s Hospital — which Charles Dickens did so much to help. The 
novelist’s homos in Doughty Street, Devonshire Terrace, and 
Tavistock Square have been dealt with at some length under the 
chapter on “ Homes and Haunts,” and the same remark may be made 
with reference to Gower Street, and his other London homes.] Mr. 
Merdle lived in Harley Street, and Mr. Dombey’s dwelling was in 
Mansfield Street. In the neighbourhood of Cavendish Square, 
probably Wigmore Street, was Madame Mantalini’s fashionable 
dressmaking establishment ; while in Wimpole Street was the West 
End residence of Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. Near by Silas Wegg kept 
his street-stall. In Welbeck Street was the London residence of 
Lord George Gordon, of “ Riots ” fame. Devonshire House is 
reminiscent of the first production by Dickens and his amateur 
troupe of Not so Bad as We Seem . In the Old St. James’s Hall 
were given several of the great readings. In Piecadilty were 
formerly the offices of Messrs. Chapman & Hall, the publishers 
of Dickens’s novels ; the lirm quite a long time ago removed to 
Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. In Golden Square was the office 
of Mr. Ralph Nickleby. In Newman Street was situated Mr. Turvey- 
drop’s Dancing Academy. Doctor Manette and his daughter had 
lodgings not far from Soho Square ; and a street leading from Charing 
Cross Road to Greek Street, Soho, is now called Manette Street. 



254 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

(5) It will be remembered that the Bank of England was Dombey 
and Son’s “ magnificent neighbour.” In St. Mary Axe Pubsey & 
Co. had their place of business. In Bevis Marks there once existed 
the house of Mr. Sampson Brass, where the Marchioness lived, or 
rather starved, as maid-of-all-work. Mincing Lane has been identi- 
fied as the locality of Messrs. Chicksey, Veneering, & Stobbles. In 
King’s Head Court, Fish Street Hill, once stood the Commercial 
Boarding-House of Mrs. Todgers. London Bridge was the scene 
of Nancy’s interview with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylje ; while 
Mrs. Rudge and her son Barnaby lived in a Southwark by-street. 
The Marshalsea Prison, long since passed away, stood in the 
Borough ; it was here that Dickens’s father was imprisoned for 
debt, and the place, with the adjoining St. George’s Church, is 
intimately associated with the story of Little Dorrit and her family. 
In Lant Street Dickens lodged whilst his father was an inmate of 
the Marshalsea. Past Suffolk Street, one comes to the site of the 
old King’s Bench Prison, in which Mr. Micawber was detained. At 
the east side of Newington Causeway is Union Road, late Horse- 
monger Lane, where stood the gaol, erected at the back of the 
Surrey Sessions House, where Dickens witnessed the execution of 
the Mannings, a sight that stimulated him to write the two letters 
to the Times on the demoralising effect of public executions. Mr. 
Chivery resided with his family in Horsemonger Lane. At the 
Surrey Theatre Fanny Dorrit was engaged as a dancer, whilst her 
Uncle Frederick played a clarionet in the orchestra. Bethlehem 
Hospital is mentioned in The Uncommercial Traveller , where the 
author implies the idea that the sane and tho insane are at least 
equal in their dreams. Near Westminster Bridge is the site of 
Astley’s Theatre, the scene of Kit’s exploit in The Old Curiosity 
Shop . At Millbank David Copperlieid and Mr. Peggotty saved 
poor Martha from a self-sought death. In Church Street lived 
little Jenny Wren. Passing the venerable Abbey where Dickens 
sleeps with his peers [and some others] we come to the Horse Guards, 
by whose old clock Mark Tapley regulated the period of the inter- 
view between Mary Graham and Martin Chuzzlewit in the park 
near by. At Her Majesty’s Theatre, as reconstructed during the 
early years of the last century, Mrs. Nickleby attended, by special 
invitation of Sir Mulberry Hawk, when, by a prearranged coincid- 
ence, Kate and the Wititterlys occupied the adjoining box (vide 
Nicholas Nickleby , ch. xxvii.). 

[Apropos to tho prisons, we may note a little work, In Jail with 
Dickens , by Alfred Trumblo, editor of the American Collector , 
printed in America but published in London in 1896 by Suckling 
& Galloway. Mr. Trumble describes Newgate, the Fleet, the 
Marshalsea, the King’s Bench, tho New York 44 Tombs,” and 
Philadelphia’s 44 Bastille,” and seems to have followed Dickens’s 
footsteps very closely. As a frontispiece is given a reproduction 
from an ojd (1780) print illustrating the destruction by the mob of 
the King’s Bench Prison and House of Correction in St. George’s 
Fields.] 



XIII 


THE INN’S OF DICKENS 


Mr. Allbtjt, in his Rambles in Dickens Land , mentions the follow- 
ing inns, which we have arranged alphabetically for easy reference. 
Many of them, of course, are no longer in existence. 


London 

Bell Tavern, at the corfter of Carter Lane and Bell Yard. Copper- 
fidd. 

Black Lion, Whitechapel. Barnaby Rudgc. 

Blue Bear, (?) Green Dragon, Leadenliall Market. Pickwick . 
Boot Tavern, Cromer Street, Cray’s Inn Road. Barnaby Rudgc. 
Bull Inn, (?) Bull and Anchor, near Cray’s Inn. Chuzzlewit. 
Claridge's Hotel. Little Dorr it. 

Cross Keys Inn, Wood Street, Cheapside. Great Expectations . 
Crown Inn, corner of Beck Street and Upper James’s Street. 
Nickleby. 

Falcon Hotel, City. Edwin Drood. 

Fox under the Hill, the site of which is now covered by the 
Hotel Cecil. Sketches by Boz , Copper field , and (?) Chuzzlewit. 
George and Vulture Inn, Castle Court. Pickwick. 

Golden Cross Hotel, Charing Cross. Pickwick and Copperfield. 
Horse and Groom, Portugal Street. Pickwick. 

Hummuras, The, Covent Garden. Great Expectations. 

Magpie and Stump, (?) The Old George the Fourth, Clare Market. 
Ptc kwick 

Old Cheshire Cheese, Ye. A Tale of Two Cities. 

Osborn’s Hotel, now Adelphi Hotel. Pickwick. 

Red Lion, Derby Street, Whitehall. Copperfield. 

Red Lion, Be vis Marks. Old Curiosity Shop. 

Saracen’s Head, Snow Hill. Nickleby. 

Six Jolly Fellowship Porters, Limeliouse. Our Mutual Friend. 
Sol’s Arms, (?) Old Ship Tavern, Chichester Rents. Bleak House. 
Spaniards Inn, Hampstead. Pickwick. 

Tavistock Hotel, Co vent Garden. Great Expectations. 

Three Cripples, Hoi born. Oliver Ticist. 

White Hart Inn, Borough. Pickwick. 

White Horse Cellars, Piccadilly. Pickwick and Bleak Home. 



256 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Wooden Midshipman, Minories. Dorribey . 

Woods’ Hotel, Fumival’s Inn. Edwin Drood . 

Canterbury 

Fleur de Lys Hotel, George and Dragon Inn, and Queen’s Head 
Inn. Copperfield. 

Chigwell 

Maypole Inn, (?) The King’s Heau. Barnaby Budge . 

Cobham 

The Leather Bottle Inn. Pickwick . 

Dorking 

Marquis of Granby. Pickwick. 

Dover 

The Royal George, (?) King’s Head Hotel. A Tale of Two Cities. 
Greenwich 

Quatermaine’s Ship Tavern. Our Mutual Friend. 

Henley 

Red Lion Inn. Our Mutual Friend. 

Ipswich 

White Horse Hotel. Pickwick. 

Rochester 

Bull Hotel. Pickwick. 

The Crozier Hotel, (?) The Crown Hotel. Edwin Drood. 
Yarmouth 

Angel Hotel and Star Hotel. Copperfield. 
the boot. 

In a street off Gray’s Inn Road there stands an old Dickensian 
building, which is very popular with sight-seeing Americans. It 
occupies a site in Cromer Street, a dingy thoroughfare of compara- 
tively modem buildings. It is a tavern called The Boot, and apart 
from its interesting associations with Barnaby Budge , it is remark- 
able as having been in the possession of the same family for nearly 
one hundred and thirty years. The Boot was originally called the 
Boat-house, a tributary of the Fleet Ditch flowing past the very 
door ; but in course of years it became known as The Boot. The 
present building dates from the year 1801, when the old tavern was 
rebuilt. In 1631 a man named Thomas Cleave left an income of 
£50 to be laid out in 13 penny loaves for distribution every week 
among the poor people in the district. The property charged with 
this annuity was The Boot, and the loaves are still given out every 
Sunday at St. Pancras Church, Euston Road. — Daily Chronicle, 
September 10, 1908, 



THE INNS OF DICKENS. 


257 


THE BULL INN, ROCHESTER. 

Situated on the south side of the High Street, within a short 
distance of Rochester Bridge, the Bull and Victoria Hotel (to give 
it its full designation) has an exceedingly unprepossessing frontage, 
its only decorative feature being the Royal Arms over the entrance. 
Why does the famous coaching-inn bear the double sign of the Bull 
and Victoria ? It originated in this way : One stormy day at the 
end of November 1830, the late Queen Victoria (then Princess), 
with her mother the Duchess of Kent, stopped at the Bull ; they 
were travelling to London from Dover, and the royal party, warned 
of the possibility of their carriage being upset in crossing the bridge, 
stayed at the hostelry all night, the apartment in which England’s 
future Sovereign slept being the identical room previously allocated 
to Mr. Tupman in Pickwick. — K 3. 

THE MITRE AND THE CROZIER. 

The Mitre at Chatham is historically interesting by reason of 
the fact that Lord Nelson used to reside there when on duty at 
Chatham, a room he occupied being known as “ Nelson’s Cabin.” In 
the eighteenth chapter of The Mystery of Edwin Drood we find the 
place disguised as The Crozier — “ the orthodox hotel ” at Cloister- 
ham (i.e. Rochester) — and in The Holly-Tree it is thus directly 
immortalised : “ There was an inn in the cathedral town where I 
went to school, which had pleasanter recollections about it than any 
of these. ... It was the inn where friends used to put up, and 
where we used to go and see parents, and to have salmon and fowls 
and be tipped. It had an ecclesiastical sign — the Mitre — and a bar 
that seemed to be the next best thing to a bishopric, it was so snug.” 
— K 3. 


THE FOX UNDER TIIE HILL. 

On the southern side of the Strand I saw last week still remaining 
the entrance tc a long and dismal lane, which forty years ago ran 
from the Strand to the river shore. The lane skirted the eastern 
side of the Adelphi Dark Arches, and led to an old-fashioned river- 
side public-house, The Fox under the Hill, described by Dickens in 
one of his Sketches by Boz . The house, I think, was on the shore, 
but in front was moored a barge with alcoves something like the old- 
fashioned tea-gardens. By the side of the public-house a rickety 
gangway led across moored barges to the pier. of the “ ’apenny boat/’ 
which plied between the Adelphi and London Bridge (the old- 
fashioned steamers which performed the service being called, I 
think, Venus, Jupiter , and Endeavour respectively). The building 
of the great hotels on the Thames Embankment is causing the 
disappearance of this and other old London landmarks. The curious 
may find the entrance to the passage on the south side of the Strand 
by the side of a restaurant nearly opposite the Adelphi Theatre. — 
W. J. Fitzsimmons, in the Times, 'October 23, 1895. 

9 



258 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


THE GEORGE AND VULTURE. 

East of Portugal Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, toward the City, is 
to be found [1904] the George and Vulture, mentioned in Pickwick , 
existing to-day as “a very good old-fashioned and comfortable 
house.” Its present name is Thomas’ Chop-house, and he who would 
partake of the 44 real thing ” in good English fare, served on pewter 
plates, with the brightest of steel knives and forks, would hardly fare 
better than in this ancient house in St. Michael’s Alley. — M 2. 

The George and Vulture was Mr. Pickwick’s favourite house* after 
he had given up his Goswell Street apartments. Wo find him 
arriving in very good old-fashioned and comfortable c; quarters,” after 
his visit to Eatanswill — or rather to Ipswich. The old ruin is [1895] 
in a corner to the left. A little door leads at once into the coffee- 
room, as into a ship’s cabin, and a lit tie stair like a companion ladder, 
confronting you, helps this association. There are the old “ boxes ” 
and stalls, and the coats and hats hung up round, and the city 
clerks busy at their lunch, u forty feeding like one.” A small arch- 
way leads into the street beyond. As regards the George and 
Vulture, 44 Boz ” falls into a slight mistake. At one time he speaks 
of it as being situated in Sun Court ; but this is on the opposite side 
of the street. At another time he describes it correctly as being in 
George Yard . — F 4. 

THE GOLDEN CROSS HOTEL. 

The Golden Cross Hotel, Charing Cross, is connected closely with 
the story of Little Em’lv, for here it was that David Coppcrfield 
met Steerforth on his way to look about him — a meeting which led 
to Steerforth’s first visit to Yarmouth, with its disastrous results. 
I fear the present Golden Cros3 Hotel could not truthfully be 
described as “ a mouldy sort of establishment in a close neighbour- 
hood,” for the house has been remodelled and the neighbourhood 
considerably cleared, but still there it is on the same site as it was 
when David was shown into a small bed-chamber, which smelt like 
a hackney coach and was shut up like a family vault ; where he w f as 
still painfully conscious of his youth, for nobody stood in awe of him 
at all.- — Charles W. Dickens, in [M unsay' s Magazine , September 1902. 

king’s HEAD, BARNARD CASTLE. 

At the King’s Head, Barnard Castle, Dickens made a brief stay, 
and observed across the way, the name of “ Humphreys, clock- 
maker,” over a shop door, this suggesting the title of] his next work, 
Master Humphrey' s Clock . The King’s Head, in the Market Place, 
Barnard Castle, has been enlarged since 1838, but the older portion 
remains much as it was then. — K 3. 

THE OLD LEATHER BOTTLE, C’OBHAM. 

The inn is [1895] a welcome roadside place, with Mr. Pickwick 
himself hung up aloft for the sign. The rooms within, notably Mr. 



THE INNS OF DICKENS. 


259 


Tupman’s, are hung round with portraits, sketches, criticisms, all 
referring to the inn. People who find themselves anywhere near 
are bound to go and see it. What a contrast to the day when it 
was pointed out to the writer by the genial Charles himself, on a 
country w^alk ! It was then no more than a common country 
“ shebeen .” — F 4. 

THE MAGPIE AND STUMP. 

With the disappearance of the last of the old bulk shops in 
Gilbert’s passage, leading from Portugal Street into Clare Market, 
goes also the George the Fourth Tavern at the corner, and the Black 
Jack in Portsmouth Street, the St. Giles-in-the-Fields Board of 
Works having just resolved to carry out the long-contemplated 
widening of Portsmouth Street to .35 feet instead of the present 
22 feet. When these works are taken in hand Black Jack Alley also 
will disappear from the London Dire tor y — no great loss, perhaps, 
because not one Londoner in a hundred can ever have heard of its 
existence, and its fame as the residence of the real original Joe 
Miller, on whom all the best jokes of the past hundred years have 
been fathered, has long been overlaid with a newer stratum of 
literary interest. 

Students of Pickwick will not need to be reminded that either the 
George the Fourth Tavern or the Black Jack w^as the original of the 
Magpie and Stump in whose parlour Mr. Pickwick w r as told the “Story 
of the Queer Client.” The Magpie and Stump, according to Dickens, 
was “ situated in a court, happy in the double advantage of being 
in the vicinity of Clare Market, and closely approximating to the 
back of New Inn.” This description, supposing it to have been 
really founded on any particular building, more nearly fits the 
George the Fourth Tavern at the entrance to this sometime Walhalla 
of rogues and vagabonds, Clare Market, than the Black Jack, 
next door. It is a corner building, projecting over the narrow foot- 
way, and supported by posts that spring from the kerbstones, 
the very house above all others in the neighbourhood to have at- 
tracted the novelist’s attention. The Black Jack, to the contrary, 
is a very ordinary building, although its grimy frontage and heavily- 
sashed windows become interesting when it is known that from one 
of its first-floor windows Jack Sheppard, the darling of penny dread- 
fuls, escaped by jumping into the street, with Jonathan Wild and 
his Bow Street runners in hot pursuit. It is, perhaps, not surprising 
that in thieving “ circles ” the house was afterwards known as “ The 
Jump.” The Black Jack, it may be necessary to add, does not 
owe its title to Sheppard ; and although it sounds dramatic, its 
sense is the merest commonplace of old-time domestic currency, 
being derived from the black leathern jacks (by which you are to 
understand “ bottle ” to bo meant) that preceded bottles made of 
glass. In many county museums these leathern jacks may still 
be seen, and there is a fine collection of them at the Hospital of 
Saint Cross, near Winchester . — Daily News , December 1 , 1896. 



260 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


THE MAYPOLE INN, CHIGWELL. 

It is not difficult to identify, in the old King’s Head at Chigypll, 
the original of the Maypole Inn of Barnaby Budge , which, although 
bearing no resemblance to Cattermole’s charming but fanciful 
drawing, is replete with those ancient features that attract both 
artist and archaeologist. — K 1. 

Of the actual Dickens inns, perhaps, none is more vividly im- 
pressed on the imagination than that of the Maypole, that fan- 
tastic structure of Barnaby Rudge , the original of which is the King’s 
Head at Cliigwell on the borders of Epping Forest. It was here 
that Mr. Willet sat in his accustomed place, “ his eyes on the eternal 
boiler.” “ Before he had got his ideas into focus, he had stared at 
the plebeian utensil cjuite twenty minutes,” — all of which indicates 
the minutiae and precision of Dickens's observations. This actual 
copper, vouched for by several documents of attestation, with an old 
chair which formerly stood in the Chester Room of the Maypole, is 
to-day [1904] in the possession of Mr. Bransby Williams, of London, 
an ardent enthusiast of all matters in connection with Dickens and 
his stories. — M 2. 

The place was said to have been built in the days of King Henry 
vin. There w r as a legend, not only that Queen Elizabeth had slept 
there one night white upon a hunting excursion, to wit in a certain 
oak-panelled room with a deep bay w indow 7 ; but that next morning, 
w'hile standing on a mounting block before the door, with one foot 
in the stirrup, the virgin monarch had then and there boxed and 
cuffed an unlucky page for some neglect of duty. — F 4. 

THE RED LION INN, WHITEHALL. 

This Dickens has given vitality to by the charming living 
sketch of a little boy going in to buy a glass of “ stunning ale ” as a 
treat in his days of penury. Who will forget the picture so ex- 
quisitely touched ? “ I see us all three ” — the landlord had called 

his wife to look at the little fellow — and she, good woman, he says, 
“ stooped down and gave him a motherly kiss and his little twopence 
back.” The story struck “ Boz ” himself as being worthy to stand, 
and so he transferred it from his diary to his novel, hardly altering 
a w ord. — F 2. 

the saracen’s head, snow hill. 

The Saracen’s Head Hotel, Snow 7 Hill, made memorable by 
Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby , was finally closed on Saturday. The 
hotel has been in existence for between three hundred and four 
hundred years. According to Dickens’s story, Mr. Squeers, of 
Dotheboys Hall, “ an academy for young gentlemen,” near Barnard 
Castle, Yorkshire, used to visit the Saracen’s Head and there inter- 
view the students who were to be “ accurately educated ” at his 
school. In the days of mail coaches the hotel was of considerable 



THE INNS OF DICKENS. 


261 


importance, being one of the recognised stopping - places. The 
coaches passed through an archway under the hotel into the spacious 
Courtyard. Visitors at the hotel were in the habit of collecting on 
the balconies, which surrounded the courtyard, to watch the scenes 
connected with the arrival and departure of the coaches. 

Lord Nelson, when ho left his home as a youth to join the Navy, 
broke his journey at the Saracen’s Head, and passed the night 
in the historic building. 

In Dick Tarlton's Jests it is referred to as “ The Saracen’s Head 
without Newgate,” and Stow calls it “ a fair and large inn for 
receipt of travellers,” which “hath to sign the Sarrazen’s Head.” 
There are various accounts of the origin of the sign of the Saracen’s 
Head. One is that it was set up as a compliment to the mother of 
Thomas a Becket, who was the daughter of a Saracen. In Selden’s 
Table Talk wo read : “ When our countrymen came home from 
fighting with the Saracens . . . they pictured them with huge, big, 
terrible faces (as you still see the sign of the Saracen’s Head is). ...” 
— Daily Chronicle , July 5 and 7, 1909. 

The Saracen’s Head at Snow Hill — a real thing in Dickens’s 
day — where the impetuous Squeers put up during his visits to 
London, has disappeared. It was pulled down when the Idolborn 
Viaduct was built in 18G9, and the existing house of the same name 
in no way merits the genial regard which is often bestowed upon it, 
in that it is but an ordinary London “ pub ” which does not even 
occupy the same site as its predecessor . — M 2. 

the sahacen’s head, towcester. 

. . . Stop for the night at the Saracen’s Head, Towcester — which 
is not far from Rugby. The inn was an old posting one — though 
the stables have since been altered, and indeed, rebuilt, to suit the 
requirements of hunting men. It was a snug, comfortable place, 
and as the Pickwickians descended and were shown into The Sun — 
these quaint names for rooms still linger in a few old houses — we 
feel tempted to envy the party at their cosy dinner. The name, 
however, has been changed, oven before the date of “ Boz’s ” 
description, for, as Superintendent Norman informs me, it has 
become the Po inf ret Arms — as is shown by entries in a constable’s 
old account book — the inn being described in the year 1830 as the 
Saracen’s Head, and in the next year as the Pomfret Arms. “ Boz,” 
therefore, must have been trusting to his recollections of some 
seven or eight years before. — F 4. 

THE SOL’S ARMS. 

No doubt your roaders have road in the papers that the original 
of The Sol’s Arms can only be seen for a few days longer. I 
went to have a last look at it the other day — The Old Ship, at 
the corner of Chichester Rents (western side of Chancery Lane). 
Within a couple of doors Miss Elite may have lived in her garret with 



262 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


her birds ; possibly in Star Yard. — W. J. Fitzsimmons, in the 
Times , October 23, 1895. 

THE SPANIARDS. 

,1 have often wondered why it was that The Spaniard of Hamp- 
stead was introduced into Pickwick , not the Jack Straw’s Castle 
which he knew so well. I fancy the reason was that The Spaniard 
was better adapted scenically to Mrs. Bardell’s arrest than the 
Jack Straw’s Castle, for there were the garden, arbours, alcoves, etc.; 
and further, The Spaniard — how and when has it become plural 
nowadays : Spaniards ? — was more suited to Mrs. Bardell . — F 2. 

THE TWO BREWERS. 

A public -house in the neighbourhood of Limehouse Church, 
The Two Brewers, is supposed to be the original of that referred to 
by Dickens as The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters, “ a dropsical old 
house,” as he called it, like so many old-world houses, all but falling 
down, if judged by appearances, but actually not in the least danger 
of it . — M 2. 

THE UNICORN, BOWES, 

The old coaching-house where this memorable interview [be- 
tween John Browdie and Dickens — The Yorkshire Tour , 1838] is 
believed to have taken place was the still-existing Unicorn at 
Bowes.— K 3. 

THE WHITE HART. 

Between Mr. Weller, of Ramsgate, and Sam Weller, boots at the 
White Hart Inn, in the Borough, there is a great apparent gap, but it 
is bridged over by the circumstance that the famous hostelry, after 
a spell of life as a public-house, has been transformed into the 
u 4 Sam Weller ’ Social Club.” The galleries above the outer court- 
yard — familiar in Hablot Browne’s illustrations — have been removed, 
and the doorways which led on to them boarded up. 

The kitchen at the top of the house is, almost to every' board on 
the ceiling, as it w'as in the time of Dickens and Sam Weller. In 
one of the rooms there are the posts of an early Victorian bedstead, 
and these Mr. Kendall, in a strict utilitarian spirit, proposes to 
convert into sets of draughtsmen. To some members and visitors 
the most interesting curios of the club will be a series of six small oil 
paintings of Dickens’s characters, which Mr. Kendall picked up 
cheap in a Borough shop and had framed. They are unsigned, and 
obviously the w r ork of an amateur or an artist with slight training, 
but with a most delicate sense of colour. — Daily Chronicle, Sep- 
tember 30, 1909. 

The inn we regarded with most affection was the Old White 
Hart in the Borough. It used to be a Sunday’s recreation with us 
to wander off into the Borough and call up old fancies. Everything 



263 


THE INNS OF DICKENS. 

■m 

favoured. Many will recall the time, some twenty years since, 
when the street was full of the old galleried inns. We “ mind the 
tiihe 55 when the Tabard itself still stood. — F 4. 

WHITE HORSE CELLARS. 

A few years ago we still had our White Horse Cellars in Piccadilly. 
The familiar animal himself “ ramped it ” — like his brother at 
Ipswich — well over the pavement. There were steps up, and the 
sanded floor, and the crudely furnished rooms, one on each side of 
the door. Below these was the door leading to the subterranean 
regions. This was much its aspect in the old Pickwickian days ; 
it was used as a parcel office. Then came the coach service, and 
lip to some four or five years ago it was a cheerful sight towards six 
o’clock to see the coaches driving up, and hear the horns winding 
out afar off. — F 4. 

woods’ hotel. 

Woods’ Hotel, in Furnival’s Inn, Hoi born, has been demolished, 
the property having been acquired, it is understood, by the Pruden- 
tial Assurance Company from the Society of Lincoln’s Inn by 
purchase. The demolition extends to three houses in Greville 
Street at the rear, and one in Leather Lane, to which latter 
street a part of the hotel buildings also have a frontage. The inn 
and the hotel were built in 1818-19 by Henry Peto — whose 
statue (1830) is in the square — and in 1883-84 the hotel, of 
which Woods was proprietor during fifty years, was enlarged 
with additional rooms erected, after the designs of Messrs. Isaacs 
& Florence, on the site of two or three houses in Greville Street ; 
three years afterwards the Assurance Company extended their 
premises by taking adjacent sites in Brooke and Greville Streets, 
Mr. Alfred Waterhouse, It. A., being their architect. The old inn, 
excepting its hall, was pulled down and rebuilt temp. Charles I. ; 
its Ilolborn front, of fine brickwork, with pilasters, has been attri- 
buted to Inigo Jones. The hall, which remained until 1818, had 
over its door, facing south, a tablet inscribed “ E P C 1688.” Stow 
mentions a Sir William Furnival, Kilt., as seised of two messuages 
and thirteen shops in Holborn, in 6 Ric. it. That property passed 
to Thomas Nevill, younger brother of Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, 
on his marriage with Joan, daughter of William, Lord Furnival. 
Their eldest* daughter and co-heir Maud, married the redoubtable 
Sir John Talbot, who was summoned to Parliament in 1409 as 
“ Johannes Talbot de Furnyvall,” and was created, 1442, Earl of 
Shrewsbury. Their descendant, Francis, fifth Earl, sold it for 
£120, by a deed dated December 16, 1 Ed. vr., to Edward Gryffyn, 
Solicitor-General, and others, “ to the use of the Society of Lincoln’s 
Inn ; ” but Herbert tells us that Fumival’s Inn is first noticed as a 
law seminary in its steward’s account book, written circa 9 Henr. 
iv., and that Lincoln’s Inn granted a lease at £3, 6s. 8d. yearly to 
the Principal and Fellows of Furnival’s Inn. Ilis volume "contains 



264 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

plates of the hall, interior and exterior, and of the main facade. 
Sir Thomas Moore was reader here for three years and longer. The 
arms of the Inn were, argent a bend between six martlets gules 
(Fumivall of Hertfordshire) within a border of the second. Charles 
Dickens lived for a while at No. 12 ; the rooms he occupied for some 
period after his marriage, and where Thackeray called upon him 
with a proposal to illustrate Pickwick, are at No. 15, on the third 
floor. — Builder , March 1895. 



XIV 


SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES 


In The Real Dickens Land, by Mr. and Mrs. H. Snowden Ward, 
the lirst chapter, dealing with Dickens’s childhood (1812-23), 
gives us scenes in Portsmouth, London, Chatham, and first glimpses 
of Gad’s Hill. The years 1823-31 are described as the boyhood and 
youth of Dickens in London, and a third period, 1831-36, deals 
with his newspaper work and Sketches by Boz , with scenes in London, 
Ipswich, Bath, etc. The writing of Pickwick occupied the years 
1830-37, and again we have scenes in London, besides a great 
number of local allusions to Rochester, Ipswich, Bury, Bath, etc. 
For the next two years, 1837-39, Dickens was editor of Bentley" s 
Miscellany , and writing Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. 

London, the Midlands, Tong, Chigwell, etc., and the writing of 
Master Humphrey" s Clock , The Old Curiosity Shop, and Barnaby 
Budge are associated with the years 1840-41. Tong is usually 
understood to be the original of the village where Little, Nell died. 
Dickens’s first American tour, American Notes and Martin Chuzzle - 
wit fill up the next two years, 1842-44. Amesbury, and not 
Alder bury, is the village now r assigned as the place of Mr. Peck- 
sniff’s practice. 

44 Anyone who really studies the story of Chuzzlewit, w r ith ord- 
nance map before him and a knowledge of the old coach routes, 
w ill find that Amesbury, some eight miles to the north of Salisbury, 
answers in every detail save that its church is described as having 
a spire (really it has a square tower), just as Dickens talks of the 
towers of Salisbury Cathedral coming into view, although he well 
knew that its single tall taper spire is its great characteristic. Though 
Amesbury has no Blue Dragon, it has a George Inn. The unsuit- 
ability of Amesbury for an architect’s home is specially provided for 
by Dickens making Pecksniff a teacher, and distinctly stating that 
‘ of his architectural doings, nothing was clearly known, except 
that he had never built or designed anything.’ 

“ There are two or three coach -roads, as are necessitated by 
the story, one running from London to Salisbury without touching 
Amesbury ; the other running right through Amesbury and over 
Salisbury Plain for the west country. Ignorance of this latter 
coach route has led some Dickens topographers into difficulties ; 
but with it everything becomes clear. The turnpike house exists 

‘205 



266 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


* * 

at which Tom left his box, and the churcn at which he played the 
organ is a fine old structure, and though there is no walk through a 
wood from the house we have selected as Pecksniff’s, there is a path 
through a little plantation which would make quite a short cut to 
the north-west corner of the churchyard. There is not a ‘ descent 
of two steps on the inside ’ of the bedroom behind the Dragon, but 
one of the rooms in the George has a descent of one step, quite 
enough to trip an imwary person.” 

In another chapter Mr. and Mrs. Ward deal with the Christmas 
books, Pictures from Italy , Dombey and Son , and David Cupper field, 
and these cover the years 1843-1850. “ An old knocker on a door 

in Craven Street, Strand, is believed to be the one that suggested 
the fancy of Scrooge’s knocker (in A Christmas Carol) changing into 
Marley’s face ; but we understand that the request of a photo- 
grapher for permission to photograph the knocker led the lady 
of the house to have it removed, and stored in her banker’s safe 
deposit.” The home where Tiny Tim cried “ God bless us, every 
one,” cannot be identified. Other chapters deal with Bleak House , 
Hard Times , Little Dorr it, and the later works from 1850 onwards, 
and the localities alluded to in them. 

THE DOVER ROAD. 

Under the title of “ Dickens and the Dover Road,” Mr. Walter 
Dexter contributed to CasscWs Magazine (February 1904) a sort 
of Dickens Baedeker to the London Road, beginning with St. 
George’s Church in the Borough, near the site of Marshalsea Prison, 
and running through Greenwich, Blackheath, Shooter’s Hill, and 
Gravesend on to the cliffs. One spot curiously combining associa- 
tions of the pathos and humour of Dickens may be mentioned : 

“ At the end of the village of Chalk, on the right-hand side of 
the Dover Road, is the cottage in which the young novelist spent 
his honeymoon, and often, in later years, when he had come to 
live at Gad’s Hill Place, he would, Forster tells us, * walk through the 
marshes to Gravesend, return by Chalk Church, and stop always to 
have greeting with a comical old monk who, for some incompre- 
hensible reason, sits carved in stone, cross-legged, with a jovial 
pot, under the porch of that sacred edifice.’ ” 

After taking the reader through Rochester and Canterbury, Mr. 
Dexter ends bis journey at the cliffs of Dover. 

THE PORTSMOUTH ROAD. 

All down the Portsmouth road about Esher you see traces of 
Dickens’s quiet notice of everything; in poor Smike’s journey with 
Nicholas Nickleby ; in the names of Weller, tho Marquis of Granby, 
and the like ; as in later years you could trace his names in the 
Hampstead Road, as Sol’s Arms, in his long walks from Tavistock 
House round by Highgate and over Hampstead Heath back again. — 
Extract from William Howitt’s memoranda, written in 1837, 
from Mary Ilowitt : an Autobiography . 



SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES. 267 


IN HERTFORDSHIRE. * 

The earliest allusion to this delightful English county in the writ- 
ings of our favourite novelist is to be found in Pickwick. Although 
the identity is somewhat veiled, there can be no doubt that in the 
story of “The Goblin who stole the Sexton/’ which opens with the 
words, “ In an old abbey town, down in this part of the country ” 
(that is, the south), Dickens had St. Albans in his mind ; while, to 
corroborate this contention, there is a fairly accurate representation 
of the famous Abbey Church in “ Phiz’s ” illustration of the scene. 

The first direct allusion to Hertfordshire is discoverable in the 
tragic story of Oliccr Twist . It will be remembered that the unfor- 
tunate hero, escaping from the tyranny of his master (the under- 
taker, to whom he had been apprenticed), directed his flight to 
London. As Peterborough has been identified as the scene of 
Oliver’s birth and early misfortunes, he would, starting from that 
point, necessarily pass through Hertfordshire (on his way to the 
metropolis) by the Great North Road, making his first acquaintance 
with the county at JEtoyston, and then tramping through Baldock, 
Stevenage, Welwyn, and Hatfield. It was early on the seventh day 
that he “ limped slowly into the little town of Barnet,” where he 
found the window-shutters closed and the street empty, for “ not 
a soul had awakened to the business of the day,” the brightness of 
the morning only serving to remind the boy of his own lonely and 
desolate condition as, with bleeding feet and covered with dust, 
he rested upon a cold doorstep. It’ was here that Oliver was 
accosted by the Artful Dodger, who ingratiated himself by treating 
the hungry lad to “ a fourpenny bran ” (that is, a modicum of ham 
with bread) and a drink, after which they proceed to London together, 
en route for Fa-gin’s “ Academy.” 

We read in the same story that Bill Sikes also favoured Hertford- 
shire with his presence. After murdering the erring but faithful 
Nancy, that notorious ruffian endeavoured to evade the legal con- 
sequences of his act by escaping into the country, and, after much 
indecision, eventually shaped his course for Hatfield. 

Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, an enthusiastic student of Dickens’s writ- 
ings, has endeavoured to trace the exact route taken by Little Nell 
and her Grandfather in the Old Curiosity Shop. In the tale this 
is merely hinted at, but there is sufficient internal evidence to justify 
Mr. Fitzgerald’s conclusions that when the two pilgrims left London 
and its miseries behind them they wended their way northward, 
making somewhat indirectly for Warwick (with its racecourse), 
Coventry, Birmingham, etc*. Thus they would traverse the western 
part of Hertfordshire. Mr. Fitzgerald has always fancied that the 
churchyard w hore Nell and her aged companion met the “ Punch 
and Judy men ” was that of Bushey, near Watford ; the old 
church, when he first saw it, reminded him very much of one of 
Cattermolo’s illustrations in the story, and the novelist has exactly 
caught the tone and pleasant charm of Bushey itself. 

In Bleak House Hertfordshire plays a conspicuous part, for the 
house whence this striking romance derives its title w r as located by 




SCENES OF THE ^NOVELS AND STORIES. 269 

Dickens in the immediate neigh bojurhood of St. Albans. Richard 
Carstone, Ada Clare, and Esther Summerson, on their way to the 
home of Mr. Jamdyco, travelled by postchaise via Barnet, where, 
while waiting for the horses to bo fed, they “got a long fresh walk 
over a common and an old battlefield, before the carriage came up. 
These delays so protracted the journey that the short day was 
spent, and the long night had closed in, before wo came to Saint 
Albans ; near to which town Bleak House was, we knew.” 

So carefully minute is Dickens’s presentment of Bleak House 
that one must fain believe such a place actually existed, and that 
all its structural peculiarities were quite familiar to the novelist. 
On the outskirts of St. Albans there stands a quaintly picturesque 
residence which, by no great stretch of the imagination, may be 
considered as the actual prototype : indeed, it has been rechristened 
“Bleak House” by the present owner. It may, of course, be 
reasonably argued that Dickens, assuming the right of a novelist, 
may have merely transferred to Hertfordshire the location of the 
building he had so elaborately portrayed. 

We read in David Copper/ield that one of Steerforth’s Oxford 
friends lived near St. Albans, but there is no clue to the exact locality. 

During a visit to Knebworth in 1801, Charles Dickens (accom- 
panied by Mr. [afterwards SirJ Arthur Helps, some time the Queen’s 
Secretary) called upon the Hermit of Hertfordshire — a most extra- 
ordinary character, locally known as “ Mad Lucas,” . . . immortal- 
ised by Dickens as Mr. Mopes, in the Christinas number of All 
the Year Round, 1801 , entitled “ Tom Tiddler's Oround.” . . . The 
Hertfordshire village so minutely described by Dickens in the early 
portion of this Christmas number is probably meant for Stevenage. — 
F. G. Kitton, in Good J Yards, March 1890. 

ROCHESTER. 

Rochester is to be found, under the name of Winglebury, in the 
Sketches. “ Boz ” describes it as being exactly forty-five miles 
and three-quarters from Hyde Park Corner. “It has a long, 
straggling, quiet High Street, with a great black and white clock at 
a small red Town Hall half-way up, a market-place, a cage, an 
Assembly Room, a church, a bridge, a chapel, a theatre, a library, 
an inn, a pump, and a post-office.” Could anything be more 
accurate or recognisable ? Ho pictures the inn of the place. The 
Winglebury Arms . — F 2. 

riCKWICKIAN SCENES. 

Much speculation has been exercised as to the locality of Eatan- 
swill, and in the History of Pickwick l could not arrive at a clear and 
certain solution. I have, however, been assured by Mr. Alfred 
Morrison, tho well-known collector, that Eatanswill was Ipswich, 
that his father was one of the candidates, and that Dickens was 
there in person. The writer makes a burlesque pretence of haVing 
searched the road-books for Eatanswill, and laments his want of 



270 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


success ; and, like Mr. Pickwick, he also seems to have “ lined out ” 
the word “ Norwich.” The Pickwickians arrived there “ late in 
the evening,” after a day’s journey, in just about the time that 
would be taken to reach Ipswich by coach. Mr. Pickwick’s journey 
from Eatanswill to Bury St. Edmunds, in chase of Captain Marshall, 
also shows that Ipswich was intended . — F 4. 

[Charles Dickens, the younger (Pall Mall Magazine , July 1896), 
speaks of Norwich as the original of Eatanswill.] 

Christ Church Hall, Spital fields, where a bazaar was held on 28th 
April 1909 in connection with Spitalfields Parish Church, is the hall 
in which Sam Weller and his venerable parent witnessed the re- 
markable meeting of the u Committee of the Brick Lane Branch of 
the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association.” 
It was at this meeting that the tea -drinking propensities of the 
“ Brick Lane Branch brothers and sisters ” alarmed the elder 
Weller, who declared that he saw a young ’oornan “ a-swellin’ 
wisibly before my worry eves.” Subsequently, on the popular 
arrival of the Reverend Mr. Stiggins, the elder Weller had a “ small 
settlement ” with that gentleman. 

The late Mr. Hughes, treasurer of Birmingham, and my old friend, 
really discovered Manor Farm in the shape of Cob Tree, Sandling, 
not very far from Maidstone. The evidence for its identity is 
striking enough. If we compare it with the two sketches in Pickwick 
(“ Mr. Pickwick Slides ” and “ The Arbour,” which furnish both 
front and back views) we shall recognise the likeness. Both houses 
are two storeys high, have wings and gabled roofs. But what 
settles the point is that there is a pond exactly in front of Cob Tree, 
and also a rookery. In Dickens’s time it would seem that the 
owners were a family of Spongs, and a modern commentator has 
contended that they were the originals of the hospitable Wardles. 
This may be so, and logically follows from the identification of Cob 
Tree 'with Dingley Deli. However, this may be assumed as a cer- 
tainty, from the reality of “ Boz’s ” description, that he himself was 
a guest at the Manor Farm Christmas festivities. The Spongs had 
also some connection with The Bull. “ Boz’s ” knowledge of Kent 
in these days was certainly extraordinary. Even his most casual 
allusion is always correct, and he is constantly introducing some- 
thing local, as a person in real life might do. Thus, the clergyman 
at Dingley Dell, when giving “ The Madman’s Story ” to Mr. 
Pickwick, spoke of “ our county lunatic asylum ; ” and, as Mr. 
Hammond Hall points out, the asylum is only a few miles from 
Cob Tree — a further point in the identity. Two of the best ghost 
•stories that we have are to be found in Pickwick — that of Gabriel 
Grub, and of the spectral mail-coaches at the close of the book. An 
abbey, introduced into the picture at the front, has caused sgme 
difficulty and confusion, as it clearly represents that of St. Albans 
in Hertfordshire. Now, old Wardle speaks of an old abbey church 
“ down here ” — that is, in Kent. There was at the time, as Mr. 
Hammond Hall notes, some abbey near Maidstone, but this was an 





272 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


abbey <c in being.” One might suggest the abbey church of Minster, 
though that is a good way off. Tuere is also Mayfield. — F 2. 

We are assured by the same authority ( Suffolk Times and M er- 
cury) that 44 Boz,” then actually engaged on the opening chapters 
of Pickwick , stayed at The Great White Horse in Tavern Street 
for two or threo weeks, and it has been reasonably surmised that 
the night adventure with 44 the middle-aged lady in the yellow 
curl-papers,” ascribed to Mr. Pickwick, was a veritable experience 
of the young author himself . — K 3. 

In the High Street, Rochester, is Eastgate House, which is en- 
shrined in Edwin Brood. There is a shadowy image of this Eastgate 
House in Pickwick , where Mr. Pickwick, hurrying off to Bury on 
one of his quixotic expeditions, hides himself in the garden of the 
young ladies’ boarding-school. This venerable mansion is an 
almost perfect and original specimen of the old English house. One 
might have hoped that when it was niched into Edwin Brood , and 
called so quaintly 44 The Nuns’ House,” a change might have come 
about its unhappy case. But no ; it still mouldered on, until at 
last came the happy day when it occurred to the Rochester City 
Fathers that it was a treasure for their town. It has now, there- 
fore, been thoroughly and judiciously repaired and set in order as 
the town museum. One or two room-; have been set apart and 
devoted to the memory of Dickens. Since Dickens’s death — or 
some time before, I am not certain which — the house was actually 
a young ladies’ school . — F 2. 

PYRCROFT HOUSE, OF OLIVER TWIST. 

Everyone has read the truly picturesque account in Oliver Twist 
of Sikes’s burglarious adventure at Chertsey — the long night travel 
and the day’s march, wdien the time seems to drag on wearily. 
They started at daylight — Sikes and Oliver — from near Bethnal 
Green, making their w'ay to Hyde Park Corner, where they got a 
lift to Isleworth ; then walked to Hampton, where they got another 
lift through Sudbury on to Shepperton, and thence to Chertsey. 
After waiting till midnight at one of their 44 lays,” the trio — for they 
had been joined by Toby Crackit — set off for Chertsey, through 
the main street of which they hurried, and 44 cleared the town 
as the church bells struck two.” 44 Quickening their pace, they 
turned up a road on the left hand. After walking about a quarter 
of a mile, they stopped before a detached house surrounded by a 
wall.” It will be seen how minute 44 Boz ” is in his description, by 
which nearly sixty years later we are enabled to identify it. 

On one beautiful summer’s Sunday I paid a visit t6 Chertsey, in 
search of this old mansion. It was difficult to find Pyrcroft House. 
It was clearly, however, beyond Chertsey — that is, not on the London 
side. Going on rather blindly towards the country in the direction 
of St. Ann’s, where Fox lived, an inviting, well-wooded district, 
I came to a small village, facing which was aline old rubicund garden 
wall. This, being out of perpendicular and threatening to fall, had 



SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES. 273 


bee* vigorously buttressed up. Within, and touching the road 
with its flank, was the house, a beautiful Georgian specimen, of ripe 
plum-coloured bricks and sound design ; indeed, it suggested Gad’s 
Hill in pattern. A country wench, who was at one of the doors, 
being asked the name could only murmur, “ I dunnoo ; ” but an 
intelligent, wizened old lady looking over her gate said, “ Whoy, 
that be Pyreroft.” Thus had I stumbled on the very place. Fair 
as it was in front, with its fine enclosed garden at the back, there 
were all the little encrusted outhouses and buildings which were so 
likely to attract Mr. Sikes. It was certainly the house ; and what 



supplied conviction was the rich bit of meadow-land which came up 
close behind. — Percy Fitzgerald, in the Magazine of Art , 1895. 

NICHOLAS NIOKLEBY AND T1IE YORKSHIRE SCHOOLS. 

The old Portsmouth theatre, the scene of Nicholas’s early 
triumphs on the stage, was destroyed many years ago ; it occupied 
the site of the Cambridge Barracks. The story is current in Ports- 
mouth that Dickens called upon the manager at the old theatre 
and actually asked for a small part . — K 3. 

In your article of 12th June, on the coronation number of the 
Times , telling your readers that they would be presented gratis 
with a reproduction in facsimile of the Times of Friday, 29th June, 
1838, you call attention to two educational advertisements as con- 
taining a hint of some of the abuses which Dickens was already 
setting himself to scourge. “ These are of schools — one in York- 
shire— at which youths are boarded and instructed according to 
age, including clothes, books, and other necessaries. No extras and 
no vacations.” 



274 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


I respectfully submit that you might have put this more strongly, 
and that these must be the originals from which Dickens made up 
Mr. Squeers’s card. Nicholas Niclcleby was published in 1839. It 
seems to me clear that Mr. Squeers’s card was based on them. It 
will be found on page 20 of the original edition. Please print all 
three. 

“ Education. — At Win ton Hall, near Kir by-Stephen, in West- 
moreland, young gentlemen are boarded, clothed, provided with 
books, and educated, by Mr. Tvvycross, in whatever their future 
prospects may require, at £20 per annum. There are no extras nor 
vacations. Prospectuses and references may be had at Peele's 
Coffee-House, Fleet Street, where Mr. T. attends daily, between 
12 and 2 o’clock.” 

“ Education. — At Mr. Simpson’s Academy, Earby [sfc in original, 
query misprint for “ Easby near Richmond, Yorkshire, youth 
are boarded, and instructed by Mr. S. and proper assistants in 
whatever their future prospects may require, at 20 and 23 
guineas a year, according to age, including clothes, books, and 
other necessaries. No extras and no vacations. Cards with refer- 
ences to be had from Mr. S., who attends from 12 to 2 o’clock 
daily at The Saracen’s Head, Snow Hill. Conveyance by steam 
vessel weekly.” 

“ Education. — At Mr. Wackford Squeers' s Academy, Dotheboys 
Hall, at the delightful village of Dotheboys, near Greta Bridge, in 
Yorkshire, youth are boarded, clothed, booked, furnished with 
pocket-money, provided with all necessaries, instructed in all 
languages living and dead, mathematics, orthography, geometry, 
astronomy, trigonometry, the use of the globes, algebra, single 
stick (if required), writing, arithmetic, fortification, and every branch 
of classical literature. Terms twenty guineas per annum. No 
extras, no vacations, and diet unparalleled. Mr. Squeers is in town 
and attends daily, from one to four, at The Saracen’s Head, Snow 
Hill.” 

Dickens added to the advertisements in your issue of 1838. But 
the leading principles are in all three — namely, £20 a year for 
clothes, books, and education ; no extras, no vacations ; and both 
Mr. Simpson and Mr. Squeers, the two Yorkshire schoolmasters, 
“ attended daily at The Saracen’s Head.”— Walter Wren, in the 
Times , July 24, 1897. 

THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP. 

We find the author, when he was describing the beautiful church 
at Tong, making allusion to some martyred lady whose remains 
had been collected in the night from four of the city gates. Though 
he does not name the city, it shows that Coventry was in his thoughts, 
as it is stated in the old guides that four of its many gates were 
standing in the early part of the century . — F 4. 

His impressions of the Black Country are vividly portrayed in 
the forty-third and succeeding chapters of The Old Curiosity Shop, 



SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES. 275 


fl#d there is good reason to suppose that a portion at least of the 
itinerary of the pilgrimage of Little Nell and her Grandfather, after 
their flight from London to escape from the evil influence of Quiip, 
was based upon his own tour, undertaken two years previously. — 

The “ Old Curiosity Shop ” in Portsmouth Street, Lincoln’s Inn 
Fields, is paragraphed to disappear. But at least seven years ago 
its destruction was announced. I shall be sorry to see its vacant 
place, for the house is old and quaint, and many visitors to London, 

■ i 


t'U 



“i.'TTLR N’KI.T.'s COTTAGE,” TO NO, SHROPSHIRE 


especially Americans, receive from it a genuine Dickensian thrill. 
Yet the house is not genuine Dickens. Where, then, was the real 
shop ? Those who know most do not know. Dickens tells us 
in the last chapter of his novel that 44 the old house had long ago 
been pulled down, and a tine broad road was in its place.” The 
story goes that he personally identified the real “ Old Curiosity Shop” 
as No. 10 Green Streot, Leicester Square, a house which was pulled 
down in the construction of Charing Cross Road. And yet he 
wrote of the shop as 44 in the City.” A shop in Fetter Lane had City 
claims, but it, too, is gone ; and tho identification of the spot 
sacred to Little Nell is now hopeless.— T.iVs IFceHy, '^August 28, 




276 



SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES. 277 

THE EDEN OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 

Eden has been identified as a scattered settlement situated on the 
Mississippi River at a point half-way between Hannibal, Missouri, 
and Quincy, Illinois, and was called Marion City. The ambitious 
minds that planned it designed that it should be the greatest city 
known to the ancient or the modern world ; but because of the 
unexpected operations of nature, and other events which had not 
been considered, that city never grew to more consequence than that 
of a mere country village, where the inhabitants constantly trudged 
about in mud and water. The founder was a man named William 
Muldrow, and was possessed of splendid maps, unbounded im- 
pudence, and ready speech. By these means he disposed of numerous 
lots in this miserable swamp, which ultimately became almost 
completely deserted. —77/ e Bookman (New York), vol. ix. 

A DOMBEY LANDMARK. 

Uncle Sol’s Wooden Midshipman is an almost living character in 
Dombey and Non, and shows the author’s art in vivifying inanimate 
things for the purpose of his story. Everyone has a sort of affection 
for this little figure. Up to the year 1881 he was flourishing, and 
taking his observations at a house in Leadenhall Street, nearly 
opposite the Old India House. Mr. Ashby Sterry found him out. 
The figuro was at the door of Messrs. Norie & Wilson, an old- 
established linn of nautical instrument makers. At one time the 
little man used to get his knuckles severely abraded by passing 
porters carrying loads, and was continually sent to have a fresh set 
of knuckles provided. Americans offered to buy . im. However, 
his house was demolished, and the firm removed to No. 156 Minories, 
w here he is now [1895] to be seen as fresh and lively as ever. — F 4. 

DAVID COPTERFIELD. 

There have been several houses in Canterbury suggested as 
Wickfield’s. There is one nearly opposite the Catholic Church, 
which has always been used, so runs the tradition, as a lawyer’s 
office. It is a two-storeyed house of brick and timber and lime- 
washed front. The main objection is the absence of gables and 
carved woodwork in the front, and the fact that there is no turret- 
room. . . . An enterprising clerk, some years ago, carved 44 U. 
Keep ” on his desk in one of the downstairs rooms, and the name is 
shown to this day to American and other tourists, some of whom 
believe it to be genuine. — F 2. 

I have seen in (American) print a triumphant account of the 
absolute identification of Miss Betsey Trotwood's house on the cliff 
at Dover, the principal evidence in the case relating to the green 
over which Miss Trot wood believed herself to have jurisdiction as 
regarded the incursions of donkeys ; and very much impressed I 
should have been, no doubt, with the writer’s industry and in- 
genuity, if I had not unfortunately happened to know of my own 




278 


INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH AT TONG, SHROPSHIRE 




SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES. 279 


knowledge that he was altogether wrong. The Trotwood donkey- 
fights did not take place at Dover at all, but at Broadstairs ; where 
a certain Miss Strong — a charming old lady who was always most 
kind to me as a small boy, and to whose cakes and tea I still look 
back with fond and unsatisfied regret — lived in a little double- 
fronted cottage in the middle of Nuckeirs Place, on the sea-front, 
firmly convinced of her right to stop the passage of donkeys, along 
the road in front of her door. — Charles Dickens, the younger, in the 
Pall Mall Magazine, July 1896. 

Tnere is not much to be seen of the Yarmouth of Dan’l and Little 
Em’ly, of ’Am and David and the seductive Steerforth. Perhaps 
at dusk one can imagine, at the south end of the Marine Parade, a 
black upturned barge or smack, with little windows and a slim iron 
tunnel doing duty as a chimney. If so, the gifted visionary may 
also hear the deep tumultuous roar of Dan’l Peggotty singing “ When 
the stormy winds do blow, do blo*v, do blow,” or Little Em’ly’s 
sweet laughter, or Steerforth warbling tears from the eyes of his 
companions. But now the pilgrim to that spot — then solitary at 
the upper reach of a tract of sand and grass between the Wellington 
Pier and the South Battery — may much more likely see clusters of 
exuberant trippers, or hear the strains of the Jewish harp or the 
fell dissonance of the inflated Teuton. There are many of the 
kindred of Miss Mowcher, but that gay and discursive immortal 
never visited any inn in Yarmouth save that in the Yarmouth of 
Dickens’s imagination. 

Many Barkises may be willing : the breed, to meet in a ramble, 
is extinct. Yet, behind the town, away by the Lowestoft Road, or 
by Somorloyton Park to Blunderston (it was at Blunderstone 
Rookery Y r iearage, it will be remembered, that Mrs. Copperfield 
bore her son David) there are still bits of East Anglian country 
unchanged since the days Barkis guided his carrier’s cart (with the 
horse that could not be driven, but only gradually induced) through 
green lanes and pastoral bj’ways. And the visitor who lias reserved 
David Copper field to read or re read at Yarmouth will find certain 
pleasure in many passages in that enduringly fascinating romance, 
remarkable alike for their truth in local colour and for their charm 
in swift and deft impression. And here, too, Dickens showed what 
he could do as u a marine artist.” Ttie description of the great 
storm on the German Ocoan that brought back the drowned seducer 
to the home he had ruined, and, with him, his would-be generous 
and unknowing saviour Ham, is one of the finest things of its kind 
in literature. — $ 7. 

BLEAK HOUSE LANDMARKS. 

The castle (Rockingham) is situated on a breezy eminence over- 
looking the valley of the Welland, which river overflows occasion- 
ally and floods the surrounding country, suggesting the watery 
Lincolnshire landscape described in the second chapter of Bleak 
House . At the end of the terrace is the New Walk, corresponding 



280 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


with the Ghost’s Walk at Chesney Wold, and there is a sundial in 
the garden, also referred to in the story. After passing under the 
archway (the remains of a former castle), a general view is obtained 
of the north front of the mansion, one of the principal apartments 
in which is the long drawing-room, the veritable drawing-room of 
Chesney Wold, except that the lireplace is surmounted by a carved 
overmantel instead of a portrait, while the family presentments 
at Rockingham are in the hall, and not in the drawing-room, as 
related of those at Chesney Wold . — K 3. 

If you have an}' business in White Hart Street, Drury Lane, you 
will probably make haste, for it is not a desirable locality. Yet 
there is a reason why you should turn aside into an uninviting alley 
on your left as you come from Catherine Street. The place has a 
fascination of its own ; for you suddenly remember a certain ‘ k reek- 
ing little tunnel of a court ” which gives access to the iron gate of 
“ a hemmed -in churchyard, pestiferous and obscene, a beastly scrap 
of ground which a Turk would reject as a savage abomination and a 
Caflie would shudder at/’ 

Yes, this is the old churchyard of Bleak House, where Lady 
Dedlock’s lover was buried ; and where she was found dead, with 
one arm creeping round a bar of the iron gate, and seeming to 
embrace it.” There have been a good many changes since then. 
Perhaps the Cali're would not shudder now'; for the gate* is gone, 
and with it “ the heaps of dishonoured graves and stones.” Here 
and there against the wall you notice a tombstone with an illegible 
inscription ; but the most conspicuous objects are a swing and a 
hobby-horse. An excellent public body lias turned the spot into 
a playground, and groups of children are enjoying themselves with 
sufficient energy to convince you that a London street urchin is 
sometimes young. They are u turning to mirth all things of 
earth,” and especially the very grim earth over which they arc 
gambolling ; while a melancholy man, in a jersey jacket and a cap 
adorned with the initials of the excellent public body, surveys the 
scene without much apparent interest. To you he addresses him- 
self promptly ; and then you are aware that he has a very weather- 
beaten aspect, especially about the right eye*, and a certain inde- 
finable touch of discipline which denotes the old soldier. He 
mentions the name of Dickens, which is evidently the formula of 
introduction ; but if you imagine that lie is going to talk about 
Jo and the nameless pauper who was laid to rest under your feet, 
you are vastly mistaken. There is no chance here of an interesting 
argument about that very self-conscious young woman Esther 
Summerson, and it k no use going into the question of Harold 
Skimpole and Leigh Hunt. “ You are looking at my eye, sir,” says 
the old soldier — “ makes me look like a blackguard, don’t it V ” 
You politely deprecate any such notion. “ Oh, it ain’t pretty, I 
know,” he says ; “ but it shows you the sort of thing I have to put 
up with in this hole. I had to turn a boy out yesterday for making 
a row, and ho let me have it in the eye with a stone, that’s what it 
is to be caretaker here.” Probably your mind goes back to Durdles 









282 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


in Edwin Drood, and to the fiend of a boy who used to pursue him 
with stones and a hideous refrain of which the only line you re- 
member is,- “ When I ketches him out after ten. ,, The old soldier 
suspects that your attention is wandering ; for he says rather 
sharply, “ You don’t know what them boys are like. When this 
place was first opened there was a flower-bed in the centre there. 
What do you think they did ? P’raps they didn’t do anything ? 
P’raps they stood around and sniffed at them ? Well, they jumped 
on that bed — that's what they did.” 

Have the* manners of the neighbours improved since the days 
of poor Jo ? The caretaker, who had been in the army over 
thirty years, thinks not. “ About the worst lot in London,” 
he affirms with emphasis. “ Do I live near here ? I tried 
it once, but it was too hot.” Words convey a poor idea of the 
deep disgust with which this is said. It is somewhere in Holborn 
that the glories of Mooltan and Bucephalus shed a lustre on his 
domestic circle. And now, as you descend the steps and stand under 
the archway, and the old soklier.stimulated by a prospective sixpence, 
grows more voluble about the contrast between his service to the 
State and his present lot, and you finger the coin in your waistcoat- 
pocket, wondering how much will soothe the pride of Mooltan and 
lessen the humiliation of grooming a hobby-horse, the fancy which 
brought you here returns. Surely this is the honest trooper, Mr. 
George, who is going back to his shooting-gallery after an interview 
with Grandfather Small weed, who has called him a ‘‘ brimstone 
beast.” And the old iron gate closes belli nd you ; and the dead 
woman lies there, clinging to the bars, and offering her pathetic 
atonement to her old love ; and the magic of a great wizard makes 
romance more intensely real than the shabby and commonplace 
reality. — St. James's Gazette , July 15, 1889. 

Hidden away in what appears to those who do not know its 
windings to be an endless labyrinth of hoarding, there lies the 
little burial-ground so interesting to every leader of Bleak House. 
At the present moment, too, it gains an additional interest from the 
performance of Jo at Drury Lane Theatre, the great side wall of 
which overshadows the little graveyard of Tom-all- Alone’s. It is, 
by the w T ay, ten years since Jenny Lee was acting her favourite 
part of Jo here in London. February 22, 1870, saw the first 
performance of a dramatic version of Bleak House. Dickens 
was particularly severe upon this burial-ground. Hero came Jo 
to pay a last tribute to his friend, and hither came the proud 
Lady Dedlock, the first time merely to see where they had laid 
the mysterious Nemo, and lastly to die upon the lilthy steps. 
Now r nearly all “ the houses looking on ” are gone, save one or 
two which still remain, like islands in a sea of waste ground. The 
little tunnel of a court is gone, and so is the sullen gas-lump on which 
the poisoned air deposited its “ witch ointment, slimy to the touch.” 
Only the old iron gateway remains, which is a matter of wonder. 
The Drury Lafie authorities tried to obtain it for the present play. 



SCENES OF THE NOVELS AND STORIES 283 

but the London County Council guarded it with a jealous care. 
Pushing the gateway open on its rusty hinges, one sees at a glance 
that a change has come over the ground which a Turk would have 
rejected. It is now a County Council playground, so that it is 
unnecessary to add that it is as clean as needs be. It is kept 
entirely for the delectation of the little children, who come in from 
Drury Lane and Clare Market, no adult being allowed to enter, 
except the kindly guardian who, though perhaps finding his task 
a trifie monotonous, looks after the children in a fatherly manner. 
In the near future the little plot will he again surrounded with 
houses, so that the Council are somewhat inclined to do away with 
the ground. It therefore behoves every Dickens lover who may 
desire to look upon the spot to improve the shining hour, if he can 
find the graveyard amongst the waste to the westward of Drury 
Lane. He must not mistake the larger playground which actually 
opens on to Drury Lane for the one which was to testify to future 
ages . — Daily Chronicle , June 13, 1806. 

The description of Tom-all-Alone's is said to have been suggested 
by a similar slum in the neighbourhood of Chatham, which must 
have been familiar to Dickens during the days of his boyhood there. 
This also has been swept away, and the modern portion of the 
Royal Marine Barracks stands upon the site . — K 1. 

In Lincoln’s Inn Fields, close to Inigo Jones’s houses, we find 
an interesting mansion that also figures in Bleak House . This is a 
stately, stone -fronted structure, with a large 4 4 fore-court” and a semi- 
circular porch. This was chosen as Mr. Tulkinghorn's residence, 
it was really Mr. John Forster’s house. No. 58, where lie resided for 
some years, up to Ins marriage. There is a stone stair, and the rooms 
are finely proportioned. The ceiling of the front room was floridly 
painted, and everyone will recall the nourishing Roman who is 
shown so mysteriously pointing down to the body of the murdered 
solicitor. For some strange reason, this decoration has since been 
painted out. lfablot Browne, the illustrator, fell into a curious 
mistake in dealing with this “ Roman.” It will bo remembered 
that Dickens makes much of his mysterious pointing in the direction 
of the Frenchwoman who was outside, watching for Tulkinghorn. 
In a vSecond plate, representing the scene of the murder, the Roman 
is shown pointing in the other direction, towards the wall . — F 4. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 

One of the weirdest neighbourhoods to Gad’s Hill, and one of those 
most closely associated with Dickons, is the village of Cooling. . . . 
It. was already noon, and low clouds and mists were lying about 
the earth and sky as wo approached the forlorn little village on the 
edge of the wide marshes described in the opening chapters of 
the novel. This was Cooling, and passing by the few cottages, the 
decayed rectory, and straggling buildings, wo came at length to 
the churchyard.— 1. 



284 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 

The most dramatic scenes of Our Mutual Friend would seem to 
have been laid at Henley and about Henley. The painstaking Mr. 
Allbut has, I think, shown this very clearly. The inn where the 
marriage took place is called “An Angler’s Inn.” . . . This inn 
was, certainly, the good old Red Lion, where Johnson and Boswell 
put up, and Shenstonc before them, who sang of it — * 

“ Whoe’er has travelled life's dull round. 

Where’er his stages may have been. 

May sigh to think he still has found 
His warmest welcome at an inn.” 

A cheerful, picturesque old mansion of the brightest and mellowest 
brick Here is the “ Inn Lawn ” running down to the river’s edge, 
crowded on boat-race days. Lizzie was employed at a large paper 
mill a short distance from Henley, and such we find at Marsh Mill, 
close to the weir, with a wooden bridge that leads to the lock. 
We also find the tow-path where Eugene met Lizzie, and from which 
he was dogged by Headstone. Eugene then crossed the handsome 
bridge, and must have been attacked immediately after. Plash- 
water Weir lock and loekhouse can be iixed beyond Medmenham, 
at Harley Lock . — F 4. 

george Silverman's explanation. 

On the road between Preston and Blackburn, lies a picturesque 
old mansion, fast falling to decay, but standing out weird and 
melancholy on the summit of the precipice on which it was erected. 
This building is Hoghton Tower, which suggested to Dickens the 
locale of the story George Silverman' s Explanation. —I). 



DIC'KEXS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM 


GENERAL. 

“Dickons,” I then [in 1851] said, “can give you a landscape 
proper — a piece of the rural English earth in the summer or in its 
winter dress, with a bit of water and a village spire in it ; he can give 
you, what painters seldom attempt, a great patch of fiat country 
by night, with the red trail of a railway train traversing the dark- 
ness ; he can succeed in a sea-piece ; he can describe the crowded 
quarter of a city, or the main street of a country town, by night or 
by day; he can paint a garden, sketch the interior of a cathedral, 
or photograph the interior of a hut or of a drawing-room ; he can 
even be minute in his delineations of single articles of dress or of 
furniture. Take him again in the figure department. Here he 
can be an animal painter, with Landseer, when he likes, as wit- 
ness bis dogs, ponies, and ravens ; he can be a I/storical painter, 
as witness his description of the (Jordon Riots ; he can be a carica- 
turist, like Leech ; he can give you a bit of village life, with Wilkie; 
he can paint a haggard scene of low city life, so as to remind one 
of some of the Dutch artists, or a pleasant family scene, gay or 
sentimental, reminding one of Mad iso or of Frank Stone ; he can 
body forth romantic conceptions of terror or beauty that have arisen 
in his imagination j lit* can compose a fantastic fairy piece ; he can 
even succeed in a dream or allegory, where the figures are hardly 
human/’ 

Mr. Dickens, on the other hand, is singularly aggressive and 
opinionative. There is scarcely a social question on which he has 
not touched; and there are fe.v of his novels in which he lias not 
blended the functions of a social and political critic with those of 
the artist, to a degree detrimental, as many think, to his genius in 
the latter capacity. For Mr. Dickens’s wonderful powers of descrip- 
tion are no guarantee for the correctness of his critical judgments 
in those particulars to which he may apply them. “ We may ow r e 
one degree of respect,” I have said, “ to Dickens, as the describcr 
of Squeers and Creakle, and quite another degree of respect when 
he tells us how ho would have boys educated. Mr. Spenlow may be 
a capital likeness to a Doctors' Commons lawyer ; and yet this 
would not be the proper ground for concluding Mr. Dickens's view 
of a reform in the Ecclesiastical Courts to be right. No man has 



286 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

given more picturesque illustrations of London criminal life : yet 
he might not be equally trustworthy in his notions of prison- 
discipline. His Dennis, the hangman, is a powerfully conceived 
character ; yet this is no reason for accepting his opinion on capital 
punishments.” 

All honour to Thackeray and the prose -fiction of social reality ; 
but much honour, too, to Dickens, for maintaining among us, even 
in the realm of the light and the amusing, some representation in 
prose of that art of ideal fantasy, the total absence of which in the 
literature of any age would be a sign nothing short of hideous. 
♦The true objection to Dickens is, that his idealism tends too much 
to extravagance and caricature. It would be possible for an ill- 
natured critic to go through all his works, and to draw out in one 
long column a list of their chief characters, annexing in a parallel 
column the phrases and labels by which these characters are dis- 
tinguished, and of which they are generalisations — the There’s 
some credit in being jolly here,” of Mark Tapley : the “ It isn’t 
of the slightest consequence,” of Toots ; the “ Something will 
turn up,” of Mr. Micawber, etc. etc. Even this, however, is a 
mode of art legitimate, I believe, in principle, as it is certainly most 
effective in fact. There never was a Mr. Micawber in nature, 
exactly as he appears in the pages of Dickens ; but Micawberism 
pervades nature through and through ; and to have extracted this 
quality from nature, embodying the full essence of a thousand 
instances of it in one ideal monstrosity, is a feat of invention. 
From the incessant repetition by Mr. Dickens of this inventive 
process openly and with variation, except in the results, the public 
have caught what is called his mannerism or trick ; and hence a 
certain recoil from his later writings among the cultivated and 
fastidious. But let anyone observe our current table-talk or our 
current literature, and, despite this profession of dissatisfaction, 
and ii* the very circles where it most abounds, let him note how 
gladly Dickens is used, and how frequently his phrases, his fancies, and 
the names of his characters come in, as illustration, embellishment, 
proverb, and seasoning. Take any periodical in which there is a 
severe criticism of Dickens’s last publication ; and, ten to one, in 
the same periodical, and perhaps by the same hand, tlieie will be 
a leading article, setting out with a quotation from Dickens that 
flashes on the mind of the reader the thought which the whole 
article is meant to convey, or containing some allusion to one of 
Dickens’s characters which enriches the text in the middle and 
floods it an inch round with colour and humour. — David Masson. 
M 1 . 

If Mr. Dickens’s characters were gathered together, they would 
constitute a town populous enough to send a representative to 
Parliament. Let us enter. The style of architecture is unparalleled. 
There is an individuality about the buildings. In some obscure 
way they remind one of human faces. There are houses sly-looking, 
houses wicked -looking, houses pompous-looking. Heaven bless 
us 1 what a rakish pump 1 What a self-important town-hall 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 287 

What a hard-hearted prison ! The dead walls are covered with 
advertisements of Mr. Sleary’s circus. Newman Noggs comes 
shambling along. Mr. and the Misses Pecksniff come sailing down 
the sumiy side of the street. Miss Mercy’s parasol is gay ; papa’s 
neckcloth is white and terribly starched. Dick Swiveller leans 
against a wall, his hands in his pockets, a primrose held between 
his teeth, contemplating the opera of Punch and Judy, which is 
being conducted under the management of Messrs. Codlin and Short. 
You turn a corner, and you meet the coffin of little Paul Dombey 
borne along. In the afternoon you hear the rich tones of the organ 
from Miss La Creev 3 r ’s first floor, for Tom Pinch has gone to live 
there now ; and as you know all the people as you know your own 
brothers and sisters, and consequently require no letters of intro- 
duction, you go up and talk with the dear old fellow about all hi 3 
friends and your friends, and towards evening he takes your arm, 
and you walk out to see poor Nelly’s grave. — Alexander Smith. 

We think him a very original writer — well entitled to his popu- 
larity, and not likely to lose it - and the tr uest and most spirited 
delineator of English life, amongst the middle and lower classes, 
since the days of Smollett and Fielding. He has remarkable powers 
of observation, and great skill in communicating what he has 
observed — a keen sense of the ludicrous — exuberant humour — and 
that mastery in the pathetic, which, though it seems opposed to 
the gift of humour, is often found in conjunction with it. Add to 
these qualities an unaffected style, fluent, easy, spirited, and terse 
—a good deal of dramatic power, and great truthfulness and ability 
in description. We know no other English writer to whom he 
bears a marked resemblance. He sometimes imit Hes other writers, 
such as Fielding in his introductions, and Washington Irving in 
his detached tales, and thus exhibits his skill as a parodist. But 
his own manner is very distinct, and comparison with any £ther 
would not serve to illustrate and describe it. We would compare 
him rather with the painter Hogarth. — Edinburgh Review , 1838. 

We esteem Dickens, next after Shakespeare, as the greatest of 
English humorists — that is to say, with reference to literary history, 
the greatest of all humorists; for none of the foreigners, ancient 
or modern — Aristophanes, Boccaccio, Rabelais, Cervantes, or Jean 
Paul — have come near Shakespeare in this faculty, though possess- 
ing it in a large measure. That none of the English humorists of 
the eighteenth century— not even Swift or Fielding, much less 
Smollett or Sterne — is to be compared with Dickons in this respect, 
we believe Thackeray himself would be ready to admit. Hogarth, 
if the two arts of painting and novel-writing allow their comparison, 
may be deemed a precursor of Dickens. Shakespeare’s clowns 
and his foolish varlets or blundering louts are, equally with his 
heroes, the creation of a great poet. Shall we not say the same 
of Pickwick, of Sam Weller, of Pecksniff, of Mrs. Gamp, and of 
many other queer characters which only a mightily creative imagi- 
nation could have formed ? Dickens is always a great writer ; 



288 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


but he is a most successful creator in the department of quaint 
figures and odd habits, curious bits of human life picked up in 
corners of the world, often torn and trampled into fantastic shapes, 
and soiled with the soot and the mire of the London streets. In 
this department he excels Balzac and Victor Hugo, while he re- 
sembles the latter and differs from the former in his respect for the 
humanity clothed in such a ragged garb of such uncomely aspect 
and ungainly demeanour. In the amount of his native genius, 
there can be no question, Charles Dickens alone outweighs all the 
writers of fiction in his time. — Illustrated London News , June 18, 
1870. 

Passing into the Strand, he saw in a bookseller’s window an 
announcement of the first number of the Almshouse ; so he pur- 
chased a copy, and, hurrying back to his lodgings, proceeded to 
ascertain what Mr. Popular Sentiment had to say to the public 
on the subject which had lately occupied so much of his own 
attention. 

In former times great objects were attained by great work. When 
evils were to be reformed, reformers set about their heavy task with 
grave decorum and laborious argument. An age w'as occupied in 
proving a grievance, and philosophical researches were printed in 
folio pages, which it took a life to write, and an eternity to read. 
We get on now with a lighter step, and quicker : ridicule is found 
to be more convincing than argument, imaginary agonies touch 
more than true sorrows, and monthly novels convince, when learned 
quartos fail to do so. If the world is to be set right, the work will 
be done by shilling numbers. 

Of all such reformers Mr. Sentiment is the most powerful. It is 
incredible the number of evil practices he has put down : it is to 
be feared he will soon lack subjects, and that when he has made 
the working classes comfortable, and got bitter beer put into proper- 
sized pint bottles, there will be nothing further for him left to do. 
Mr. Sentiment is certainly a very powerful man, and perhaps not 
the less so that his good poor people are so very good ; his hard rich 
people so very hard ; and the genuinely honest so very honest. 
Namby-pamby in these days is not thrown away if it bo introduced 
in the proper quarters. Divine peeresses are no longer interesting, 
though possessed of every virtue ; but a pattern peasant or an 
immaculate manufacturing hero may talk as much tw addle as one of 
Mrs. Radcliffc’s heroines, and still be listened to. Perhaps, "fiowever, 
Mr. Sentiment’s great attrac tion is in his second-rate characters. 
If his heroes and heroines w r alk upon stilts, as heroes and heroines, 
I fear, ever must, their attendant satellites are as natural as though 
one met them in the street : they w alk and talk like men and women, 
and live among our friends a rattling, lively life ; yes, live, and will 
live till the names of their calling shall be forgotten in their own, 
and Bucket and Mrs. Gamp will be the only words left to us to 
signify a detective police officer or a monthly nurse. . . . 

Bold finished the number ; and as he threw it aside, ho thought 
that that at least had no direct appliance to Mr. Harding, and that 




290 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the absurdly strong colouring of the picture would disenable the 
work from doing either good or harm. He was wrong. The artist 
who paints for the million must use glaring colours, as no one knew 
better than Mr. Sentiment when he described the inhabitants of 
his almshouse ; and the radical reform which has now swept over 
such establishments has owed more to the twenty numbers of Mr. 
Sentiment’s novel, than to all the true complaints which have 
escaped from the public for the last half-century. — Anthony 
Trollope, in The Warden. 

Dickens, with preternatural apprehension of the language of 
manners, and the varieties of street life, with pathos and laughter, 
with patriotic and still enlarging generosity, writes London tracts. 
He is a painter of English details, like Hogarth ; local and temporary 
in his tints and style, and local in his aims. — R. W. Emerson, in 
English Traits. 

Dickens shows that life in its rudest forms may wear a tragic 
grandeur ; that amidst follies and sensual excesses, provoking 
aughter or scorn, the moral feelings do not wholly die ; and that 
the haunts of the blackest crimes are sometimes lighted up by the 
presence and influence of the noblest souls. — Channing, On the 
Present Age . 

Charles Dickens, the most popular novelist of the century, and 
one of the greatest humorists that England has produced. — John 
Forster. 

The good, the gentle, high-gifted, over-friendly, noble Dickens— 
every inch of him an Honest Man.— Thomas Carlyle. 

Many of his portraits excite pity, and suggest the existence of 
crying social sins ; but of almost all we are obliged to say that they 
border on and frequently reach caricature, of which the essence 
is to catch a striking likeness by exclusively selecting and exaggerat- 
ing a peculiarity that marks the man but does not represent him. 
Dickens belongs in literature to the same class as his illustrator, 
Hablot Browne, in design, though he far surpasses the illustrator 
in range and power. — George Brimley, Essays. 

Mr. Dickens’s genius is essentially irregular and unsym metrical. 
Hardly any English writer perhaps is much more so. His style 
is an example of it. It is descriptive, racy, and flowing ; it is 
instinct with new imagery and singular illustration ; but it does not 
indicate that due proportion of the faculties to one another which 
is a beauty in itself, and which cannot help diffusing beauty over 
every happy word and moulded clause.— Walter Bagehot, in Literary 
Studies. 

Of Charles Dickens’s fame a grand feature is its universality. 
His name is as much a “ household word ” in every sequestered 
hamlet lying between the most extreme points of our home islands, 
as it is in the metropolis ; and he is as well known in the United 
States, Canada, and Australia, as he is in the city round St. Paul’s. 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 291 


Wherever there are men of English origin, speaking the English 
tongue, there the genius of Charles Dickens is one of the most 
important facts of life. It would be a long task to say all that 
Dickens has done for the English novel. It would be easier to 
state what he has not done for it. Indeed the novel of this genera- 
tion is so completely a work of his re-creation, that it would be mere 
ingratitude, backed up by stupidity, not to hail him as the im- 
mediate parent of it. — J. Cordy Jeaffreson, in Novels and Novelists. 

Since his death long obituary notices of him have been given 
in the Italian papers. The Diritto thinks that Sam Weller, and the 
” modern TartutTe ” in Martin Cliuzzlewit , will be immortal, like 
Perpetua and Don Abhondio in Manzoni’s Promessi Sposi, which 
have become popular types of character. The Nazione speaks of 
the deceased as the greatest of modern English novelists. “ He 
was, 1 ’ it adds, “ for five-and-thirty years, at once the most esteemed 
novelist and the greatest social reformer of his fellow-countrymen. 
There will be monuments to him in marble and bronze, but his 
finest monument will be the good lie did for the poorer classes.” — 
H 4. 

SKETCHES BY BOZ. 

He (Dickens) is the Washington Irving of English low life; and 
as his observations appear to have been confined to that department, 
his knowledge of it appears to bo more copious, and his descriptions 
of it, while more varied and ample, are not quite so completely 
finished as sonic of the few given by Irving. The most remarkable 
of the qualities of “ Boz ” is certainly his humour. But he displays 
also much and very fine wit. He not only exhibits in action the 
follies and absurdities of human beings, but intersperses his narra- 
tive with remarks on men and things characterised by great point 
and shrewdness . — London and Westminster Review. 

If ho will endeavour to supply whatever may bo effected 
by care and study — avoid imitation of other writers — keep nature 
steadily before his eyes — and check all dispositions to exaggerate — 
we know no writer who seems likely to attain higher success in that 
rich and useful department of fiction which is founded on faithful 
representations of human character, as exemplified in the aspects 
of English life . — Edinburgh Review, October 1838. 

THE PICKWICK PAPERS. 

We have very rarely met with a writer who more quickly seizes 
peculiarity of character, or, what is quite as difficult to seize, the 
external marks (often trifling enough) by which thoso peculiarities 
are indicated, and in which they are embodied. So completely is 
our author master of this latter art, that a few slight dashes will 
often give us a stronger conception of the character he designs to 
set before us than tho longest and most elaborate descriptions. 
His personages impress us with all the force and vividness of reality. 



292 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


They are not described — they are exhibited. He has also been 
equally happy in seizing those peculiarities which discriminate 
different classes of the community from one another ; which mark 
the various species as strongly as other peculiarities do the in- 
dividual. — Eclectic Review , April 1837. 

A writer, whose name we have forgotten, remarked that Pickwick 
was made up of “ two pounds of Smollett, three ounces of Sterne, 
a handful of Hook, a dash of the grammatical Pierce Egan — 
incidents at pleasure, served with an original sauce piquante .” And 
Lady Chatterton, in one of her works, remarked : “ Mr. Davy, 
who accompanied Colonel Chesney up the Euphrates, has recently 
been in the service of Mahomet Ali Pacha. Pickwick happening to 
reach Davy while he was at Damascus, lie read a part of it to the 
Pacha, who was so delighted with it, that Davy was on one occasion 
summoned to him in the middle of the night, to finish the reading 
of some part in which he had been interrupted. Mr. Davy read in 
Egypt, upon another occasion, some passages from these unrivalled 
papers to a blind Englishman, who was in such ecstasy with what 
he had heard, that he exclaimed he was almost thankful he could 
not see he was in a foreign country, for that, while he listened, he 
felt completely as though he were again in England .” — II 4. 

T am sure that a man who, a hundred years hence, should sit 
down to -write the history of our time, would do wrong to put that 
great contemporary history of Pickwick aside as a frivolous work. 
It contains true character under false names ; and, like Roderick 
Random , an inferior work, and Tom Jones (one that is immeasurably 
superior) gives us a better idea of the state and ways of the people, 
than one could gather from any more pompous or authentic history. 
— W. M. Thackeray. 

The Wellers, father and son, both talk a language and employ 
allusions utterly irreconcilable with their habits and station, and 
we constantly detect both in the nice and even critical use of words 
and images borrowed from sources wholly inaccessible to them. 
As a describer and portrait-painter, Dickens too frequently conde- 
scends to be a copyist, and almost always on such occasions betrays 
a marked inferiority to his prototypes. What is the talent or 
quality that has procured him so unprecedented a share of popu- 
larity ? In our opinion he has obtained and well -merited it by 
being the first to turn to account the rich and varied stores of wit 
and humour discoverable amongst the lower classes of the Metro- 
polis, whose language has hitherto been condemned as a poor, 
bald, disjointed, unadorned, and nearly unintelligible slang, utterly 
destitute of feeling, fancy, or force. Having made up our minds 
as to the origin of Mr. Dickens’s popularity, it remains to add a word 
or two as to its durability, of which many warm admirers are 
already beginning to doubt— not, it must be owned, without reason ; 
for the last three or four numbers (Nos. 14, 15, 10, 17) of Pickwick 
are certainly much inferior to the former ones, and indications 
are not wanting that the particular vein of humour which has 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 293 

hitherto yielded so much attractive material is worked out. In 
the Sketches by Boz we find much of the same nicety of observation 
and quaint perception of the ludicrous as in the Pickwick Payers ; 
but the essays distinguished by these qualities bear a small pro- 
portion to those in which the laboured, the commonplace, or the 
imitative style predominates. There is a sustained power, a range 
of observation, and a continuity of interest in this series which we 
seek in vain in any other of his works. The fact is, Mr. Dickens 
writes too often and too fast ; on the principle, we presume, of 
making hay while the sun shines, he seems to have accepted at once 
all engagements that were offered him, and the consequence is, that 
in too many instances he has been compelled to 

“Forestall the blighted harvest of the brain,’’ 

and pour forth, in their crude, unfinished, undigested state, thoughts, 
feelings, observations, and plans which it required time and study 
to mature — or supply the allotted number of pages with original 
matter of the most commonplace description, or hints caught from 
others and diluted to make them pass for his own. If he persists 
much longer in this course, it requires no gift of prophec}' to fore- 
tell his fate — ho has risen like a rocket, and he will come down like 
the stick ; but let him give his capacity fair play, and it is rich, 
vigorous, and versatile enough to ensure him a high and enduring 
reputation. — Quarterly Bcview , October 1837. 

There is nothing from which Mr. Dickens draws so largely as the 
ludicrous of situation. This is one of the same nature with that 
practical wit, commonly called horse-play, which consists in the 
dexterous removal of a gentleman's chair as he is in the act of sitting 
down, and sucli-likc feats. If Mr. Dickens can exhibit a character 
with his heels in the air, he laughs and chuckles, and rubs his hands 
and thinks he has achieved a great chapter. Mow Mr. Winkle, the 
third of Mr. Pickwick’s colleagues, is the chosen subject for this sort 
of merriment, lie is a mere fool, and of all imaginable fools the 
most insipid. He is put upon a tall horse, and made to dismount 
that he may not be able to get up again. He is provided with a gun 
to shoot his friend Tupiuan by accident (a capital joke !) lie is 
set on skates to be laid sprawling on the ice. He is represented as 
the greatest coward in the wor'd, and is made to go through the 
motions of a duel, and is on the point of being shot, because, having 
shut his eyes in very fear, he cannot perceive that the challenger 
is a man he had never seen. The only characters of any pith in the 
whole book are Sam Weller and his father. 

Wo should bo unjust to Mr. Dickens if we failed to notice the 
character of old Wardle, an honest, hearty, hospitable country 
gentleman of small estate. It is ad mirably drawn, and the Christmas 
gambols at his house are delightful. We have seen nothing like it 
from the pen of any writer of this century. We repeat that we have 
no quarrel with Mr. Dickens, and admit that he has considerable 
powers. Our quarrel is not with him, but with (he must excuse the 



294 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


word) his keepers. It Is nis misfortune to possess a talent, the abuse 
of which renders him acceptable to that class of readers by whom 
meretricious arts are preferred to modest grace. This is therefore 
his public . By this he is debauched and corrupted, and to this he 
prostitutes himself. Wo pity him, and we would, if it were possible, 
shame them. — Southern Literary Messenger (Richmond, Va.), 
September 1837. 

Not much of Dickens will live, because it has so little correspond- 
ence to life. He was the incarnation of cockneydom, a caricaturist 
who aped the moralist ; he should have kept to short stories. If 
his novels are read at all in the future, people will wonder what we 
saw in them, save some possible element of fun meaningless to them. 
The world will never let Mr. Pickwick, who to mo is full of the 
lumber of imbecility, share honours with Don Quixote. — George 
Meredith, quoted by Edward Clodd, in Fortnightly Review , July 
1909. 

OLIVER TWIST. 

Thackeray, in The Neivcomes , remarked that “ a profane work, 
called Oliver Twist , having appeared, which George read out to his 
family with admirable emphasis, it is a fact that Lady Walham 
became so interested in the parish boy’s progress, that she took bis 
history into her bedroom (where it was discovered, under Blather- 
wick’s Voice from Mesopotamia, by her ladyship’s maid) ; and that 
Kew laughed so immensely at Mr. Bumble, the Beadle, as to en- 
danger the reopening of his wound.” 

And again, in Fraser's Magazine for February 1840, at the end of 
a clever satire upon the Newgate Calendar school of romance, 
purporting to be written by Ikey Solomons, jun., Thackeray thus 
remarks upon Oliver Twist : 

“ No man has read that remarkable tale without being interested 
in poor Nancy and her murderer, and especially amused and 
tickled by the gambols of the skilful Dodger and his companions. 
The power of the writer is so amazing, that the reader at once becomes 
his captive, and must follow him whithersoever he leads : and to 
what are w*o led ? Breathless to watch all the crimes of Fagin, 
tenderly to deplore the errors of Nancy, to have for Bill Sikes a 
kind of pity and admiration, and an absolute love for tho society 
of the Dodger. All these heroes stepped from the novel on to the 
stage ; and the whole London public, from peers to chimney-sweeps, 
were interested about a set of ruffians whoso occupations are thievery, 
murder, and prostitution. A most agreeable set of rascals, indeed, 
who have their virtues too, but not good company for any man. 
We had better pass them by in decent silence ; for, as no writer can 
or dare tell the whole truth concerning them, and faithfully explain 
their vices, there is no need to give ex parte statements of their 
virtues. . . . The pathos of the workhouse scenes in Oliver Tmst 9 
of the Fleet Prison descriptions in Pickwick , is genuine and pure — 
as much of this as you please ; as tender a hand to the poor, as 
kindly a word to the unhappy as you will, but in the name of 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 295 

common sense let us not expend our sympathies on cut-throats 
and other such prodigies of evil ! ” — H 4. 

A writer, who chooses to be known to the literary world by the 
name of “ Boz,” has, for some time past, been exhibiting his antics 
before the public. We have never sought his acquaintance, for the 
same reason that we should avoid a fellow who might thrust himself 
into an assembly room, and invite the notice of the company by 
the dress and grimaces of a merry-andrew. We should ask our- 
selves, in such a case, what man, capable of refinement, would 
choose to be a buffoon ? What man, possessing a particle of self- 
respect, would descend to an exhibition so degrading and disgust- 
ing ? Observing that in each of the volumes ( Bentley's Miscellany, 
American edition) before us there was one tale, and one only, from 
his pen, and finding that one of these consisted of eighteen and the 
other of twenty-five pages duodecimo, we took up the volume with 
a light heart, and went to work with something like the same con- 
solation with which Fergus MTvor went to the scaffold. Thus 
it was that we became acquainted with the Public Life of Mr. 
Tulr amble, and The Progress of Oliver Twist , the Parish Boy . The 
result of this w r as, that w e were not only confirmed in our suspicions 
of the true character of the w riter, but that our indignation was 
strongly excited against the critic who had palmed him on our 
notice. We felt called upon to expose the one and denounce the 
other as proper objects for the contempt and indignation of the 
public. To qualify ourselvos for the duty, ami to secure ourselves 
against any possibility of injustice, we undertook, and faithfully 
accomplished, the loathsome task of reading the volumes through. 
Having completed it, we determined that if, from this time forth, 
any of our readers suffers himself to he cheated out of his money 
or his time by Mr. “ Boz ” himself, or any of his associates, aiders, and 
abettors, it shall not be our fault . — Southern Literary Messenger 
(Richmond, Va.), May 1837. 

In the present tale, or string of stories, it looks as if he [Dickens] 
revelled, whilo painting low or degraded nature, among objects 
which, unless merely subservient to finer and higher elements 
equally well drawn and furnished, never can awaken our nobler 
sympathies, nor prune and invigorate the w ings of these awakened 
sensibilities. On this account we cannot place our author among 
those novelists who are models in regard to the inculcation of 
moral sentiments and the lessons that refine while they delight. 
Not that Mr. Dickens is an immoral writer. It is not in his nature 
to be such ; it is the farthest possible thing from his intention, 
evidently, to write for the mere sake of gain, of entertainment, or 
of merely harmless tiction. He has high and pure aims ; nor 
can he have failed of doing good, morally speaking. Whoever 
supposes that the History of the Parish Boy's Progress — after reading 
it at one or two sittings, or without any considerable intervals, 
from beginning to end — will be as popular twenty years hence aa 



296 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


it has been and is now, has tastes and expectations very different 
from those entertained by us . — Monthly Review , January 1839. 

The circumstantiality of the murder of Nancy is more harrowing 
than the bulletin of 50,000 men killed at Borodino. “ Boz ” fails 
whenever he attempts to write for effect ; his description of rural 
felicity and country scenery, of which lie clearly knows much less 
than of London, where he is quite at home and wideawake, are, 
except when comical, overlaboured and out of nature. Oliver 
Twist is directed against the poor-law and workhouse system, 
and in our opinion with much unfairness. The abuses which he 
ridicules are not only exaggerated, but in nineteen cases out of 
twenty do not at all exist. The whole tale rivals in improbabilities 
those stories in which the hero, at his birth, is cursed by a wicked 
fairy and protected by a good one ; but Oliver himself, to whom 
all these improbabilities happen, is the most improbable of all. 
He is represented to be a pattern of modern excellence, guileless 
himself, and measuring others by his own innocence ; delicate and 
high-minded, affectionate, noble, brave, generous, with the manners 
of a son of a most distinguished gentleman, not only u neorrupted, 
but incorruptible ; less absurd would it be to expect to gather 
grapes on thorns, to find pearls on dunghills, violets in Drury Lane, 
or make silk purses of sows 5 ears. We object in toto to tho staple 
of Oliver Twist — a series of representations which must familiarise 
the rising generation with the haunts, deeds, language, and char- 
acters of the very dregs of the community. Notwithstanding that 
the greater tendency in woman towards the gentler affections 
renders a Nancy somewhat less improbable than an Oliver, we fear 
that both characters must be considered contrary to the laws of 
human nature and experience everywhere, and particularly in 
England . — Quarterly Review , Juno 1839. [The writer admits 
Dickens’s “ close observation of incidents and perceptions of 
characters and professions.”] 

NICHOLAS NTCRLKBY. 

The best-drawn characters in the book, Man tali ni and Mrs. 
Nickleby, have only caricature parts to play ; and, in preserving 
them, there is no g^at difficulty. — Fraser's Magazine , April 1840. 

If Nicholas Nickleby possesses no character altogether equal to 
Mr. Pickwick, it is on tho whole a far superior work. Indeed, no 
other tale of our author’s can boast so consistent and well-developed 
a plot, so sustained an interest in tho action, and so ample and 
varied an assemblage of characters. His faults, however, are 
numerous . — Christian Remembrancer , December 1842. 

Sydney Smith, in a letter to Sir George Phillips, about September 
1838, wrote : “ Nickleby is very good. I stood out against Mr. 
Dickens as long as I could, but he has conquered me.” 

Lecturing on “ Week-Day Preachers, 55 at St. Martin’s Hall (July 
1857), in aid of the Jerrold Fund, Thackeray spoke of the delight 
which children derived from reading the works of Mr. Dickens,. 



KASTOATE, ROCHESTER 

8o silent arc the streets of Cloislerham that, on a summer day, the sun-blinds ot 
its shops scarce dare to Map in the south wind 

From a water-colour by Paul Hr add on 


297 





298 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and mentioned that one of his own children said to him that she 
wished he “ would write stori&s like those which Mr. Dickens wrote. 
The same young lady,” he continued, “ when she was ten years 
old, read Nicholas Nickleby morning, noon, and night, beginning 
it again as soon as she had finished it, and never wearying of its 
fun.”— #4. 

MASTER HUMPHREY’S CLOCK. 

Master Humphrey's Clock supplies the place of the Sultana in 
the Arabian Nights , of the ladies in the Decameron , and of Fadladoen 
in Lalla Rookh . After a considerable deal of difficulty, Magog is 
induced to tell a story to while away an hour or two ; and here we 
have the finest illustration of the idea, Parturiunt montes , nascetur 
ridicnlus mus , that was ever presented for our consideration. All 
this nonsense about the giants is only to usher in one of the weakest 
and most unfortunate tales — the vilest attempt at pathos — the 
veriest abortion in the shape of an endeavour to create interest 
or afford amusement that ever was perpetrated, flow Dickens, 
with his talents and experience, could have suffered such a thing 
to go forth under the sanction of his name is to us a matter of 
unfeigned marvel,— Monthly Review , May 1840. 

THE OLD CURIOSITY STIOP. 

It is told of Daniel O’Connell, the great Irish agitator, that 
travelling with a friend one day and reading the then recently 
issued book where the death of Little Nell is recorded, the great 
orator’s eyes filled with tears, and he sobbed aloud, Ho should 
not have killed her ! — he should not have killed her ! She was too 
good ! ” and so he threw the book out of tho window, unable to 
read more, and indignant that the author should have immolated 
a heroine in death. — // 4. 

BARNABY RUDGE. 

By far tho ablest criticism of any single work of Dickens is in 
Edgar Allen Poe’s two famous reviews of Barnaby Radge . The 
first was a prospective review published in the Philadelphia Saturday 
Evening Post of 1st May 1841, when the tale had only just begun, 
and forecasting the author’s treatment of tho story. It was this 
that drew the letter from Dickens inquiring whether he had dealings 
with the devil. When the work was finished ho reviewed it again, 
and in the second review quoted from his first, so that a notice of 
the one embodies the other. After a brilliant outline of tho plot, 
he observes : 

“ We are not prepared to say, so positively as wo could wish, 
whether, by the public at largo, tho whole mystery of the murder 
committed by Rudge, with the identity of tho Maypole ruffian with 
Rudge himself, was fathomed at any period previous to the period 
intended, or, if so, whether at a period so early as materially to 
interfere with the interest designed ; but we are forced, through 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 299 


sheer modesty, to suppose this the case ; since, by ourselves in- 
dividually, the secret was distinctly understood immediately upon 
the perusal of the story of Solomon Daisy, which occurs at the 
seventh page of this volume of three hundred and twenty-three. 
In the number of the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post , for 1st 
May 1841 (the tale having then only begun), will be found a 'pro - 
spective notice of some length, in which we make use of the following 
words : 

44 ‘ That Barnaby is the son of the murderer may not appear 
evident to our readers — but we will explain. The person murdered 
is Mr. Reuben Ilaredale. He was found assassinated in his bed- 
chamber. His steward (Mr. Rudge, senior), and his gardener 
(name not mentioned) arc missing. At first both are suspected. 
44 Some months afterwards ” — here we use the words of the story — 
“ the steward’s body, scarcely to be recognised but by his clothes, 
and the watch and ring he wore — was found at the bottom of a 
piece of water in the grounds, with a deep gash in the breast, where 
lie had been stabbed by a knife. He was only partly dressed ; and 
all people agreed that he had been sitting up reading in his own 
room, where there -were many traces of blood, and was suddenly 
fallen upon and killed, before his master.” 

44 4 Now, be it observed, it is not the author himself who asserts 
that the steward's body was found ; he has put the words in the mouth 
of one of his characters. His design is to make it appear, in the 
denouement, that the steward, Rudge, first murdered the gardener, 
then went to his master’s chamber, murdered him , was interrupted 
by his (Rudge’s) wife, whom he seized and held tv the wrist , to 
prevent her giving the alarm— that he then, after possessing himself 
of the booty desired, returned to the gardener’s room, exchanged 
clothes with him, put upon the corpse his own watch and ring, and 
secreted it where it was afterwards discovered at so late a period 
that the features could not be identified.’ 

“ The differences between our pre-conceived ideas, as here 
stated, and the actual facts of the story, will be found immaterial. 
The gardener was murdered, not before, but after his master ; and 
that Rudge’s wife seized him by the wrist, instead of his seizing 
her , has so much the air of a mistake on the part of Mr. Dickens, 
that we can scarcely speak of our own version as erroneous. The 
grasp of a murderer’s bloody hand on the wTist of a woman enceinte, 
would have been more likely to produce the effect described (and 
this everyone will allow) than the grasp of the hand of the woman 
upon the wrist of the assassin. We may therefore say of our sup- 
position as Talleyrand said of some Cockney’s bad French — que s*il 
ne suit pas Fran$ais , assurhnent done il le doit tire — that if we did 
not rightly prophesy, yet, at least, our prophecy should have been 
right. 

44 We are informed in tho Preface to Barnaby Rudge that 4 no 
account of the Gordon Riots having been introduced into any work 
of fiction, and the subject presenting very extraordinary and re- 
markable features,’ our author 4 was Fed to project this tale.’ But 



300 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


for this distinct announcement (for Mr. Dickens can scarcely have 
deceived himself) we should have looked upon the riots as altogether 
an afterthought. It is evident that they have no necessary con- 
nection with the story. In our digest, which carefully includes all 
essentials of the plot, we have dismissed the doings of the mob in a 
paragraph. The whole event of the drama would have proceeded 
as well without as with them. They have even the appearance of 
being forcibly introduced. In our compendium it will be seen 
that we emphasised several allusions to an interval of five years. 
The action is brought up to a certain point. The train of events is, 
so far, uninterrupted — nor is there any apparent need of interrup- 
tion — yet all the characters are now thrown forward for a period of 
five years. And why ? We ask in vain. It is not to bestow upon 
the lovers a more decorous maturity of age— for this is the only 
possible idea which suggests itself — Edward Chester is already 
eight-and-twenty, and Emma Ilaredate would, in America at least, 
be upon the list of old maids. No — there is no such reason ; nor 
does there appear to be any one more plausible than that, as it is 
now the year of our Lord 1775, an advance of five years will bring 
the dramatis personce up to a very remarkable period, affording an 
admirable opportunity for their display — the period, in short, of the 
‘ No Popery * Riots. Tin’s was the idea with which we were forcibly 
impressed in perusal, and which nothing less than Mr. Dickens’s 
positive assurance to the contrary would have been sufficient to 
eradicate. 

“ It is, perhaps, but one of a thousand instances of the disadvan- 
tages both to the author and the public of the present absurd fashion 
of periodical novel-writing, that our author had not sufficiently 
considered or determined upon any particular plot when he began 
the story now under review. In fact, wo see, or fancy that we see, 
numerous traces of indecision — traces which a dexterous supe r- 
vision of the complete work might have enabled him to erase. Wo 
have already spoken of the intermission of a lustrum. The opening 
speeches of old Chester are by far too truly gentlemanly for his 
subsequent character. The wife of Vardcn, also, is too wholesale 
a shrew to be converted into a quiet wife— the original design was 
to punish her. At page 16, we read thus — Solomon Daisy is telling 
the story : 

“ * “I put as good a face upon it as I could, and, muffling myself 
up, started out with a lighted lantern in one hand and the key of the 
church in the other” — at this point- of the narrative, the dress of 
the stage man rustled as if he had turned to hear more distinctly.’ 

“ Here the design is to call the reader’s attention to a point in tho 
tale; but no subsequent explanation is made. Again, a few lines 
below : 

“ * The houses were all shut up, and the folks indoors, and perhaps 
there is only one man in tho w'orld who knows how dark it really 
was.’ 

“ Here the Intention is still more evident, but there is no result. 
Again, at page 51, tho idiot draws Mr. Chester to the window, and 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 301 


directs his attention to the clothes hanging upon the lines in the 
* yard : 

“ ‘ “ Look down,” he said softly ; 4 4 do you mark how they whisper 
in each other’s ears, then dance and leap to make believe they are in 
sport ? Do you see how they stop for a moment, when they think 
there is no one looking, and mutter among themselves again ; and 
then how they roll and gambol, delighted with the mischief they’ve 
been plotting ? Look at ’em now I See how they whirl and plunge. 
And now they stop again, and whisper cautiously together — little 
thinking, mind, how often I have lain upon the ground and watched 
them. I say what is it they plot and hatch ? Do you know ? ” ’ 

“ Upon perusal of these ravings, wo at once supposed them to 
have allusion to some real plotting ; and even now we cannot force 
ourselves to believe them not so intended. They suggested the 
opinion that Harcdale himself would be implicated in the murder, 
and that the counsellings alluded to might be those of that gentleman 
with Rudge. Tt is by no means impossible that some such con- 
ception wavered in the mind of the author. At page 32 we have 
a confirmation of our idea, when Varden endeavours to arrest the 
murderer in the house of his wife : 

“ 4 “Come back — comeback ! ” exclaimed the woman, wrestling 
with and clasping him. “ Do not touch him on your life. He 
carries other lives besides his otvn” ’ 

“ The denouement fails to account for this exclamation. 

“ In the beginning of tho story much emphasis is placed upon 
the two female servants of Haredale, and upon his journey to and 
tivm London, as veil as upon his wife. We have merely said, in 
our digest, that he was a widower, italicising the renv.rk. All these 
points are, in fact, singularly irrelevant in the supposition that the 
original design has not undergone modification. 

“ Again, at page 57, when Haredale talks of ‘ his dismantled 
and beggared hearth,’ wo cannot help fancying that the author 
hud in view some different- wrong, or series of wrongs, perpetrated 
by Chester, than any which appear in the end. This gentleman, 
too, takes extreme and frequent pains to acquire dominion over the 
rough Hugh — this matter is particularly insisted upon by the 
novelist — we look, of course, for some important result — but the 
filching of a letter is nearly all that is accomplished. That Barnaby’s 
delight in the desperate scones o f the rebellion is inconsistent with 
his horror of blood will strike every reader, and this inconsistency 
seems to be the consequence of the afterthought upon which we have 
already commented. Tn fact, the title of the work, tho elaborate 
and pointed manner of the commencement, the impressive de- 
scription of Tho Warren, and especially of Mrs. Rudge, go far to 
show that Mr. Dickens lias really deceived himself — that the soul 
of the plot, as originally conceived, was the murder of Haredale, 
with the subsequent discovery of the murderer in Rudge — but this 
idea was afterwards abandoned, or rather suffered to be merged in 
that of the Popish Riots. The result has been most unfavourable. 
That which, of itself, would have proved highly effective, has been 



302 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


rendered nearly null by its situation. In the multitudinous outrage 
and horror of the rebellion, the one atrocity is utterly whelmed and 
extinguished. 

“ The reasons of this deflection from the first purpose appear to 
us self-evident. One of them we have already mentioned. The 
other is that our author discovered, when too late, that he had 
anticipated , and thus rendered valueless , his chief effect. This will 
be readily understood. The particulars of the assassination being 
withheld, the strength of the narrator is put forth, in the beginning 
of the story, to ichet curiosity in respect to these particulars ; 
and so far he is but in proper pursuance of his main design. But 
from his intention he unwittingly passes into the error of exaggerating 
anticipation. And error though it be, it is an error wrought with 
consummate skill. What, for example, could more vividly enhance 
our impression of the unknown horror enacted than the deep 
and enduring gloom of Haredale — than the idiot’s inborn awe of 
blood — or, especially, than the expression of countenance so imagina- 
tively attributed to Mrs. Rudge — ‘ the capacity for expressing 
terror — something only dimly seen, but never absent for a moment — 
the shadow of some look to which an instant of intense and most 
unutterable horror only could have given rise ’ ? But it is a con- 
dition of the human fancy that the promises of such words are 
irredeemable. In the notice before mentioned we thus spoke 
upon this topic : 

“ * This is a conception admirably adapted to whet curiosity in 
respect to the character of that event which is hinted at as forming 
the basis of the story. But this observation should not fail to be 
made — that the anticipation must surpass the reality ; that no 
matter how terrific be the circumstances which, in the denouement, 
shall appear to have occasioned the expression of countenance worn 
habitually by Mrs. Rudge, still they will not be able to satisfy the 
mind of the reader. He will surely bo disappointed. The skilful 
intimation of horror held out by the artist produces an effect which 
will deprive his conclusion of all. These intimations — these dark 
hints of some uncertain evil — are often rhetorically praised as 
effective — but are only justly so praised when there is no denoue- 
ment whatever — where the reader’s imagination is left to clear up 
the mystery for itself — and this is not the design of Mr. Dickens.' 

“ And, in fact, our author was not long in seeing his precipitancy. 
He had placed himself in a dilemma from which even his high genius 
could not extricate him. He at once shifts the main interest — 
and in truth we do not see what better he could have done. The 
reader’s attention becomes absorbed in the riots, and he fails to 
observe that what should have been the true catastrophe of the 
novel is exceedingly feeble and ineffective.” 

Poe then goes on to register a considerable number of Dickens’s 
inconsistencies, none of which are really vital but all curious and 
interesting, and the detection of which shows the author of “The 
Raven ” to have been a critic of extraordinary acumen. His general 
conclusion is thus set down : 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 303 


“ The work before us is not, we think, equal to the tale which 
immediately preceded it; but there are few — very few others to 
which we consider it inferior. Our chief objection has not, perhaps, 
been so distinctly stated as we could wish. That this fiction, or 
indeed that any fiction written by Mr. Dickens, should be based 
in the excitement and maintenance of curiosity we look upon as a 
misconception, on the part of the writer, of his own very great yet 
very peculiar powers. He has done this thing well, to be sure — he 
would do anything well in comparison with the herd of his con- 
temporaries — but he lias not done it so thoroughly well as his high 
and just reputation would demand. We think that the whole book 
has been an effort to him — solely through the nature of its design. 
Ho has been smitten with an untimely desire for a novel path. The 
idiosyncrasy of his intellect would lead him, naturally, into the 
most fluent and simple style of narration. In tales of ordinary 
sequence ho may and will long reign triumphant. He has a talent 
for all things, but no positive genii/ <t for adaptation , and still less for 
that metaphysical art in which the souls of all mysteries lie. Caleb 
Williams is a far less noble work than The Old Curiosity Shop y but 
Mr. Dickens could no more have constructed the one than Mr. 
Godwin could have dreamed of the other . — P 6. 

AMERICAN NOTES. 

Wo solemnly declare, that any litterateur who had read Halli- 
burton, Hamilton, Marryat, Trollope, Martincaii — to say nothing 
of Stuart, Silk Buckingham, Tyrone Power, Robert Keeley, and 
Fanny Kemble — might have written tho whole *'f the work Mr. 
Dickens calls his own, without ever passing out of earshot of the 
sound of Bow Bells. Candidly, however, wo confess, that after 
tho labours of these persons, it would have been very difficult for 
Mr. Dickens to have written anything new of America and the 
Americans : and wo humbly consider the United States ought, 
after what had already been done, to be regarded as peculiarly 
tabooed ground to novelists and actors. . . . There is certainly 
this to distinguish this book on America from all its predecessors, 
and which recommends it potently to the multitudinous admirers 
of “ Boz.” Though it contains nothing intrinsically new, everything 
is made to wear a new face from the way in which it is painted, and 
patched, and frizzed, and powdered, before it is brought upon the 
stage. Everything is made to wear “ Boz’s ” peculiar colours, and is 
stamped with his idiosyncrasy. . . . We do not know what else 
we should bo disposed to say in favour of it. But this, we are 
aware, will be taken as all-sufficing praise. — Fraser's Magazine , 
November 1842. 

More vivid description, more life-like scenes, more distinct colour- 
ing, a happier collection of words, and a more strikingly felicitous 
use of images for tho writer’s particular purposes, it is impossible 
to find or desire in any book. One necessary result is, that the most 
familiar things, the subjects that have been handled hundreds of 



304 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


times by voyagers and travellers, present in these pages new points, 
and set the mind upon trains of cogitation and reflection that never 
were suggested before. — Monthly Review , November 1842. 

If not quite so versatile as the other writers who turned their 
hand to anything, he [Samuel Warren] was always quite willing 
to undertake anything that fell at all in his way. One of the 
earliest of these articles was a review [in Blackwood's] of Dickens’s 
American Notes , a little book which was treated as important at 
that period w’lien everything produced by Dickens was so eagerly 
looked for, which Warren offered to do in a most characteristic 
letter : 

“ October 28, 1842. 

“ What say you to a review by me of Dickens's new book on 
America — a fair, prudent, and real review ? Bearing in mind my 
own position as a sort of honourable yit fearless rival of his. 1 have 
just read forty pages. 1 could make it a first-rate affair. If 
you have got no one else, drop me a line by return. If you can 
rely on my judgment and tact, I can. 

In the description of the voyage out is to be found, in my 
opinion, a perfect specimen of Dickens's peculiar excellences and 
faults. There is palpable genius ; subtle and vivid perceptions, 
exquisite felicity of illustration and feeling and natural circum- 
stances ; real humour, mannerism, exaggeration, glaring but un- 
conscious egotism ano vanity, glimpses of under-breeding. Those 
last I should touch on in a manly and delicate and generous spirit. 
Rely on Sam Warren. I will do him good, and will make himself 
acknowledge me a high-minded rival, a real friend. 

“ From the glance I have given the book I think I shall on Ihe 
whole be disappointed, for Dickens seems to have been equally 
incapable and indisposed to look beyond the surface of American 
manners and society. 

“ Oh, what a book I could have written ! ! ! 1 mean I who 

have not only observed but reflected so much on the characters of 
the people of England and America. 

li I should pledge myself to write* such a review as the public 
have a right to accept from mo, and as would occasion you no 
embarrassment if Dickens were ever staying in vour house. I 
shall praise him very greatly for certain qualities with discrimina- 
tion, and endeavour to give some useful hints to the shoal of popular 
writers of the present day.” — 0. 

Alas, how very sad it is to have [to acknowledge V] our own 
feelings of chagrin and disappointment with which we have risen 
from the perusal of these volumes of Mr. Dickens, and to express 
our fears that such will be the result of the perusal of them by the 
Americans ! We perceive in every step ho takes, in whatever he 
says or does, and all that he has written, the blighting effects of 
his original blunder in proclaiming beforehand his going to 
America. It is so very flimsy a performance — we must speak the 
disagreeable and painful truth — that nothing but our strong feel- 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 305 


ings of kindliness and respect for a gentleman of his unquestionable 
talents, and of gratitude for the amusement which his better and 
earlier works have afforded us, could have induced us to bestow 
the pains which were requisite to present so full an account of it 
as that which we have above given our readers. — Blackwood's 
Magazine , December 1842. 

It is curious to be brought in sight of scraps of contemporary 
criticisms, casting upon reputations now firmly established the 
same doubtful and wavering light which now plays upon our con- 
temporaries, reducing their chances of recognition by posterity 
or enhancing them, according to the critic’s mood. There had 
been a review of Dickens and his American Notes in the Magazine 
by the hand of Mr. Warren, who considered himself the rival of 
Dickens, and who had for the moment almost as great a reputa- 
tion, backed up vigorously, we may well believe, by the stout 
faction of 44 Maga.” The review was “ finely written,” according to 
the opinion of Mr. Phillips, who adds his own ideas on the subject : 

“ The close of Air. Dickens's literary career will, if I am not mis- 
taken, be as full of useful warning as his rise was sudden and astound- 
ing. The following more can is from a note of Air. Johnston’s (of 
the Post), which 1 received a day or two ago, and which contains 
sound criticism, lie says : 4 With regard to the new work of Mr. 
Dickens, I have only read extracts, which seem to indicate more 
of failure than of success, lie spoils what might be good by straining 
after effect and mounting into the falsetto of exaggerated description 
or inappropriate reflection. The fitness and natural relation of 
things do not seem to be present to his mind, and his composition 
appears to imply a want of literary education.’ ” 

Put within an interval of a few days the writer changes his mind, 
and that upon a most effectual argument : 

“ 1 have this morning received a very flattering epistle from 
4 ]>oz ’ on the subject of Caleb. He writes me thus : 4 Having begun 
your story I cannot resist telling you at once that I think it excellent , 
and of great merit ; and that next week I promise myself the pleas- 
ure of writing you again, and giving you my opinion more in detail.’ 
1 think I must retract all that I said to you against 4 Boz ’ in my 
last letter ! ” — 0. 

Lord Jeffrey, on the appearance of the first edition, wrote the 
author a letter, in which lie says : 44 A thousand thanks for your 
charming book, and for all the pleasure, profit, and relief it has 
afforded me. You have been very tender to our sensitive friends 
beyond the sea, and really said nothing which will give any serious 
offence to any moderately rational patriot amongst them. The 
slavers , of course, will give you no quarter, and of course you did 
not expect they would. . . . Your account of the silent or solitary 
imprisonment system is as pathetic and as powerful a piece of 
writing as I have ever seen, and your sweet airy little snatch Gf the 
little woman taking her new babe homo to her young husband, 
and your manly and feeling appeal in behalf of the poor Irish, or 



306 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


rather the affectionate poor of ail races and tongues, who are patient 
and tender to their children, under circumstances whioh would 
make half the exemplary parents, among the rich, monsters of 
selfishness and discontent, remind us that we have still among us 
the creator of Nelly and Smike, and the schoolmaster and his 
dying pupil, and must continue to win for you still more of that 
homage of the heart, that love and esteem of the just and the 
good, which, though it should never be disjoined from them, should , 
I think you must already feel, be better than fortune or fame.” 

Tom Hood, almost immediately upon its appearance, reviewed 
the work, under the title of “ Boz in America.” In his happiest 
vein of drollery, he conjectures that it would be impossible for 
Mr. Boz to go to “ the States ” without losing all his English 
characteristics, and returning to his friends a regular Down-East 
Yankee . — H 4. 

Two notices prefaced by the following editorial remark : “ As 
an earnest of our disposition to do Mr. Dickens justice, and to let 
him have fair play, we give two notices of his Notes— one from the 
North, the other from the South, by which he may perceive that 
they do not pass current in either section.” 

^ First Notice . — In this work, we see a young and ardent English- 
man, with a sensitive and benevolent heart, and a fancy which, with 
balloon-like expansibility, inflates itself by vaporising the smallest 
fact, and gives itself to the wildest and most rapid wanderings. 
It is impossible that such a writer can really be truthful, however 
great his determination to be so ; truth may be his purpose, but 
imagination involuntarily touches the point of his pen.” 

“ Secefnd Notice . — It is one of the most suicidal productions ever 
deliberately published by an author who has the least reputation 
to lose. Not that the whole work exhibits the impress of wilful 
malignity and deliberate injustice towards a nation from which, 
both as an author and a man, he has received the highest favours ; 
but because it is utterly weak, frivolous, and inconclusive through- 
out, adding another to the many proofs of the fact, that he who 
attempts to perform a task, for which both his frame^f mind and 
previous opportunities have rendered him unfit, can only succoed 
in making himself ridiculous, and detracting from the real merit 
which he may possess. As a writer of a peculiar class of fiction, and 
master of the comic, ‘ Boz ’ has no rival ; but when, after a four- 
months* run over a country like ours, he presumes to pass judg- 
ment on our national character and institutions, amazement at his 
audacity is only merged into pity for his folly, and the reader is 
irresistibly reminded of a similar undertaking, which lie himself 
has graphically described on the part of a certain Pickwick Club, 
to perform the same service for the ‘ unexplored parishes * of 
England. Although the greater part of this book should only 
eall forth a pitying smile at the vanity and folly of its author, his 
bitter assaults and foul calumnies in relation to an institution which 
he has not troubled to understand in any of its bearings deserve the 




WATTS’ CHARITY, FOR SIX POOR TRAVELLERS, ROCHESTER 
From a if'iiter-cuiour by I’aul liraifdon 



308 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


indignant scorn of an insulted and slandered people.’ * — Southern 
Literary Messenger (Richmond, Va.), January 1843. 

We have been greatly disappointed in the perusal of American 
Notes . We are well aware that there are some defects in our social 
organisation which might be hit off to advantage by a master- 
hand, and we had hoped that Mr. Dickens’s keen perception of the 
ludicrous would be exercised at our present expense, though for our 
ultimate profit. The little information to be gleaned from these 
two volumes, with few exceptions, might be gained much more 
advantageously from the map and gazetteer. The perusal of them 
has served chiefly to lower our estimate of the man, and to fill us 
with contempt for such a compound of egotism, coxcombry, and 
cockneyism. We regret that Mr. Dickens has published these 
volumes, for they bear the mark of hasty composition, evince no 
genius, add nothing to the author’s reputation as a writer, and 
exhibit his moral character in a most undesirable light. — The Ncic 
Englander (Boston and New York), January, 1843. Review by 
J. P. Thompson. 

AMERICAN NOTES AND MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 

There are some Englishmen who believe that we are still writhing 
under the arraignment of our national follies contained in Dickens's 
Martin Chuzzlnvit and American Notes. They do not realise that 
the life, the social and economical conditions which Dic kens found 
on his visit to the United States in 184*2 seem as strange and as 
remote to the American of to-day as they do to the Englishman. 
When he drew the pictures of Colonel Diver, Jefferson Brick, Major 
Dawkins, Hannibal Chollop, Professor Mullitt, Generals Fladdoek 
and Kettle, and the Honourable Elijah Pograrn, Dickens was no 
doubt simply caricaturing in his own inimitable way certain types 
and eccentricities which actually existed, or which he believed to 
exist. But these types and ecc entricities have so completely passed 
away that the manners and ideas of the Americans of .Martin 
Chvzzleivit seem the manners and ideas of an entirely foreign and 
remote people. Cant and pretence, the love of humbug and the 
spirit of false democracy are undoubtedly to be found among us 
now, but their expression is very different ; and were we brought 
face to face with Colonel Diver and Jefferson Brick in the flesh, 
we should no more understand them than we should understand the 
presence of a herd of stampeding bulTaloes on Broadway or an 
Indian encampment in the corridors of the Waldorf-Astoria. Mrs. 
Trollope came to see us, and gave her impressions in The Domestic. 
Manners of the Americans. Captain Marryat visited us, and his 
printed opinion was not flattering. Thackeray was not over-fond 
of “ those conceited Yankees.” But in no case have wo borne any 
lasting ilDwill, and it was only in the caso of Mrs. Trollope and 
Dickens that we felt even temporary irritation. 

It would be absurd to attempt to deny that Dickens saw much 
in America that deserved castigation, much that must have appealed 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 309 


irresistibly to his keen sense of the ridiculous. On the other hand, 
it would be impossible to pretend that the malice of Martin Chuzzlc- 
wit and the American Notes was duo to any but petty causes. He 
brought with him to America a fundamental dislike to the principle 
of slavery, of which he had no personal knowledge, and a determina- 
tion to have enacted an international copyright law. In this latter 
aim he failed, and his utterances on the subject brought down upon 
his head much bitter and unfair newspaper criticism. It was to 
the sting of this failure and this criticism, and to the sense of personal 
discomfort and irritation, rather than to any carefully studied con- 
viction of our national unworthiness, that we owe the cordially bitter 
and unfriendly tone of the two books which form the subject of the 
present paper. 

It was in New York that, in the midst of ovations, Dickens, 
irritated by the newspaper comments on his speeches regarding 
copyright, seems to have begun to dislike his entertainers. Some of 
the newspapers went so far as openly to charge that he had come to 
this country under false pretences, and that in reality he was making 
the trip as the paid agent of an organisation of British authors ami 
publishers. Then, too, his privacy was constantly being invaded. 
He was continually being pestered by utterly impossible people. 
Voluminous manuscripts came, whose modest authors requested 
Dickens to read carefully, note any alterations and corrections he 
thought proper, and requesting that ho superintend their publica- 
tion in England. One letter came from the South asking an original 
epitaph for the tombstone of an infant. Another solicited an 
autograph copy of the lines to an “ Expiring Frog.” One lady from 
New York wrote that many funny things had taken place in her 
family, and many interesting and tragic events, and that she had 
records for ono hundred years past. She proposed to furnish these 
records, with explanations, to Mr. Dickens, for him to arrange and 
rewrite and have them published in England, allowing him to divide 
the profits equally with her. All theso little ephemeral exaspera- 
tions must be taken into consideration. They go a long way toward 
explaining, if not condoning, the spirit of injustice and hostility 
in which Dickens sat down to the writing of Martin Chiizzlewit and 
the American N.tte 

Under the circumstances, the review* of the American Notes 
which was printed in the North American Review for the first three 
months of 1843 seems incomprehensibly favourable. After twelvo 
or fourteen pages devoted to a highly eulogistic estimate of Mr. 
Dickens’s work done previous to the American Notes , the writer 
of the criticism discusses the Notes with great good-nature and 
forbearance. Ho describes vividly the enthusiastic reception which 
Mr. Dickens received everywhere throughout his American tour* 
In treating of Mr. Dickens’s attitude in the international copyright 
question, the writer takes up the cudgels in defence of our visitor 
and against his own countrymen : 

“ We coincide entirely with the views so well expressed by Mr. 
Dickens, and approve of the manner in which he has developed 



310 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


them. The attacks made upon the part of a portion of the news- 
papers for the course he saw fit to take on this subject (that of 
international copyright) were unjust, false, virulent and vulgar, 
discreditable to the taste and temper and disagreeable to the 
characters of their authors. One of the most generous and dis- 
interested of men, he had come to this country to seek, among a 
people by whom his genius was approved and admired, relaxation 
from long and severe intellectual toil. He was charged with the 
meanest mercenary motives simply because he had the independence 
to urge the claims of justice. We must say in behalf of all honour- 
able men connected with the Press, that to defend the character 
of Mr. Dickens from such poor attacks would be a work of superero- 
gation indeed. . . . We had a right to expect from him not a 
didactic work, but a book full of graphic details, good feeling and 
pleasant observation, and in this expectation we have not been 
disappointed. Many of his descriptions have given offence in 
various quarters. Some people seem to think that fault of manners, 
or an offence of social arrangements, or an awkward or a disagreeable 
habit as described by a visitor is meant to be classed as something 
peculiar to them. Thus, Dickens’s pictures of the discomforts 
of canal -boats and stage-coaches — though all who have ever felt 
them acknowledge the striking fidelity of his pencil — are supposed 
to be meant as satires upon American civilisation in particular, 
and as if such things are found nowhere else ; and not a little very 
excellent wrath has been expended upon him on that most gratuitous 
supposition. We have heard no defence set up against the charge 
of tobacco chewing and spitting. In these two pleasant habits we 
suppose we stand, by general consent and by our own admission, 
pre-eminent among the nations of the earth. The picture he draws 
of the character of the American newspaper Press, largely coloured 
as it is, does not surpass the truth when applied to the power — a 
very large power it must be confessed — of the metropolitan papers. 
He does not make sufficiently emphatic exceptions and distinctions, 
and when he comes to speak of the universality of its evil influence, 
its omnipotence and omnipresence, his vigorous, startling, and almost 
terrific language is quite too unqualified. We have no faith in the 
existence of such a demoniac power as that he describes. The 
profligate papers, numerous as they are and widely as their circula- 
tion ranges, neither express nor guide nor govern what can with any 
propriety be called the public opinion of the country. They may 
open their foul mouths in full cry upon a man of character year 
after year, and through every State in the Union, but they can 
harm him no more than the idle wind. They are read, despised, 
and the next day utterly forgotten. Their cowardly malice, 
their ignorant vulgarity and profligacy overshoot the mark.” 

A somewhat different, but by no means severe, tone runs through 
the review of Martin Chuzzlewit , which appeared in the Knicker - 
bocker Magazine for September 1844 : 

“ With much that is unworthy of Mr. Dickens, much that he 
will live to regret if he is not already sorry for, Martin ChuzdewU 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 311 


contains some of the most striking scenes and the most vivid portrait- 
ures of character that have ever been sketched by the author’s facile 
and felicitous pen. We pass by his pretended morals and manners 
of the United States. They are for the most part characterisations 
so gross as to be incapable of exciting any emotion save one in the 
mind of any American reader. Once or twice, it is true, he touches 
us in the raw. ... It is in home portraitures that Dickens is the 
most successful when in relation to scenes and characters. What 
could bo more graphic than his description of Todgers’s, the mercan- 
tile boarding-house ? It is a finished picture of the Flemish school. 
As for old Pecksniff, the portrait could not be exceeded. Selfish, 
deceitful, with sufficient cunning to acquire a reputation for being 
the reverse of what he really is, we follow his progress with deep 
interest, and exult in the retribution which closes his sinuous 
career.” 

Tho Quarterly Review for the three months beginning with March 
1843, in its review of American Notes , says that both Englishmen 
and Americans should consider that our common origin and language, 
which theoretically ought to be a bond of moral connection, are 
in practice very liable to produce a hostile and jealous spirit between 
tho two nations : “ The mutual language, then, becomes a double 
weapon : the common fountain overflows on either side with the 
water's of bitterness. We think that in discussing this subject on 
some former occasion we said that when people write or talk against 
one another in different languages they are like boxers sparring 
in stuffed gloves, but when the English and Americans squabble 
in their common tongue, it is like hitting home >rith the naked fist— 
their blow gives a black eye or a bloody nose. It was, therefore, 
we confess, with no particular pleasure that we learned w-e were to 
have a picture of America from the pen of Mr. Dickens. Mr. Dickens 
is, as everybody knows, tho author of some popular stories published 
originally in periodicals. Remarkable as has been the exploita- 
tions of very low life — treated, however, generally speaking, with 
bettor taste and less vulgarity than the subjects seem to promise — 
we must say, en passant, that we have very little taste for the class 
of novels that take their heroes from Newgate and St. Giles. 
Even in the powerful hands of Fielding, Jonathan Wild has always 
both disgusted and wearied us.” 

Tho Quarterly scores Dickens roundly for ignoring objects of 
beauty and preferring to deal with what was petty and ludicrous : 

“ Instead of seeing in the streets of New York specimens of fine 
architecture Mr. Dickens tells us with much detail that he saw, 
besides tho * mulatto landlady,’ a ‘ fiddler, one barrel-organ, one 
dancing monkey ’ ; and, he adds, ‘ not one white mouse.’ All this, 
wo presume, is meant for pleasantry, but indeed the utter inanity 
of Mr, Dickens’s pages, the total lack of information or even rational 
argument, is not more to be regrotted than the awkward efforts of 
jocularity with which ho endeavours to supply their places. We 
might in return be very facetious in expressing Mr. Dickens’s bad 
taste, but we prefer seriously to remonstrate with him on nonsense 



312 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


so deplorable that we are almost ashamed to give one other specimen. 
We have already stated that of tho account of New York a few lines 
only are given to a general view of society in that city, while several 
pages were employed on the latest and most trivial topics. But 
our readers will hardly be prepared for such stupid puerility as we 
have now to produce. It seems that the streets of the metropolis 
are much frequented by pigs. This gives Mr. Dickens t-lie oppor- 
tunity of taking up not merely the subject of pigs in general, but to 
one individual and selected pig three pages of his American A T otes is 
devoted, being, we calculate, six times more space than he has given 
to all the prominent orators, litterateurs, artists and heroes of 
America altogether.” 

Tne following is from the Edinburgh Review for January 1843 : 

“ Though Mr. Dickens does not tell us of it, it is a notorious fact 
that throughout every State in the United States he was besieged 
by the whole host of lion hunters, whose name in that land of 
liberty and equality is legion. In England we 'preserve our lions. 
To be admitted to the sight of one except on public occasions is a. 
privilege granted only to the select. In America (always excepting 
a skin of the right colour) the pursuit of this kind of game requires 
no qualifications whatever, for, though society seems to form itself 
there, just as it does with us, into a series of circles, self-distinguished 
and excluded one from the other, there does not appear to bo any 
generally acknowledged scale of social dignity. Each circle may 
assert its own pretensions and act upon them, but they are not 
binding upon the rest. In the eye of the law and of the universe a 
citizen is a citizen, and as such has a right to do the honour of the 
country to a stranger. And though there are, doubtless, many 
circles in which the stranger is pitied for having to receive such 
promiscuous attentions, there is none which seems to consider itself 
excluded from the privilege of offering them. Though the book 
is said to have given great offence on the other side of the Atlantic, 
we cannot see any sufficient reason for it.” 

Two of the severest contemporary critics of Dickens’s American 
Notes were Macaulay and Dc Tocqueville, the latter of whom had 
journeyed extensively in and written much about the United States. 
When in the French Chamber of Deputies reference was made to 
Dickens’s book on America, De Tocqueville ridiculed the idea that 
any opinions of Dickens’s on the matter should be. quoted as in 
any respect authoritative. Macaulay, who had written to Napier, 
the editor of the Edinburgh Review, asking permission to review tho 
new book when it should be ready, withdrew his request as soon as 
he had seen it. “ This morning,” he writes to Napier, 19th October 
1842, “ I received Dickens’s book. ... I cannot praise it, and I 
will not cut it up. It seems to me to be on the whole a failure. 
It is written like the worst parts of Humphrey 1 $ Clock, Wbat 
is meant to be easy and sprightly is vulgar and flippant. I pro- 
nounce the book, in spite of some claims of genius, frivolous and 
•dull.” — Arthur Bartlett Maurice, in The Bookman (New York), April 
1903. 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 313 

MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. 

Sydney Smith, delighted in the way in which the Americans 
were pasquinaded, sent Dickens these familiar notes on the merits 
of the book : 

“ You have been so used to such impertinences that I believe you 
will excuse me for saying how very much pleased I am with the fit's t 
number of your new work. Pecksniff and his daughters, and Pinch, 
are admirable — quite flrst-rato painting, such as no one but yourself 
can execute. I did not like your genealogy of the Chuzzlewits, and 
I must wait a little to see how Martin turns out. I am impatient 
for the next number. 

“ P.S . — Chuff ey is admirable. I have never read a finer piece of 
writing ; it is deeply pathetic and affecting. Your last number 
is excellent.” 

Then, again, under date 12th July 1843, in acknowledgment of a 
call from Dickens, and after the receipt of a new number of Martin 
Chuzzhwit , he writes : 

“ Excellent ! nothing can be better ! You must settle it with 
the Americans as you can, but I have nothing to do with it. I have 
only to certify that the number is full of wit, humour, and power of 
description .” — II 4. 

To display the destructive effects of avarice and the depravity 
of selfishness, on the one hand, and the beauty of benevolence, of 
kindness on the other, is evidently the aim of the worthy writer 
of Martin Chuzzlewit ; and happily the weapons which he uses 
to accomplish his good purpose are of so effectual a nature as to 
strip the one of its fancied advantages, and in vest the other with 
a lasting and attractive splendour. How thoroughly disgusted 
must our author be with his experiences of that land of enlightened 
liberty — America ! ho could not suffer this opportunity to pass 
without showering ids heavy sarcasm at their hollow pretensions 
and professions. Surely if Jefferson Brick and Elijah Pogram are 
in any degree true specimens of American politicians and states- 
men, wo can with gratitude reflect on our much superior position. — 
Monthly Review , September 1814. 

We venture to think this is the most brilliant and entertaining 
of all the works of Mr. Dickens, and his most characteristic work. 
Mr. Dickens is, however, principally known to the public as a comio 
writer ; and, like inferior comic writers, he sometimes carries 
comic writing to an unpleasant length. There is a peculiar style 
which ho has introduced into English composition, and vrhich 
consists in giving what is conventionally accepted as a funny 
turn to language, without there being any fun whatever in the 
thought. The contest betw een the matter and the style is pain- 
fully marked, and the opening chapter of Martin Chuzzlewit is 
one of the very worst things Mr. Dickens has written. The reason is 
because it is entirely aw r ay from the story, and is all about nothing. 
The fun is entirely in the language, and the funny language i» 
as flat as funny language about nothing is apt to be. In order to* 



314 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


mark off his less prominent characters, he is apt to select one salient 
external feature in their appearance, to which he makes constant 
reference, or he introduces them as perpetually making use of 
some phrase by which they are to be recognised. Mrs. Gamp is 
among the very best creations of Mr. Dickens. We should venture 
to pronounce it the best of all, only that those decrees of the critic 
are not generally very valuable or acceptable to other people. — 
National Review , July 1841. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

* 

The following letter [was written in December 1843] to its author 
by Lord Jeffrey : 

“ Blessings on your kind heart, my dear Dickens, and may it 
always be as full and as light as it is kind, and a fountain of kind- 
ness to all within reach of its beatings. We are all charmed with 
your Carol ; chiefly, I think, for the genuine goodness which breathes 
all through it, and is the true inspiring angel by which its genius 
has been awakened. The whole scene of the Cratchits is like the 
dream of a beneficent angel, in spite of its broad reality, and little 
Tiny Tim, in life and death almost as sweet and as touching as 
Nelly. . . . Well, to be sure, you should be happy yourself ; for 
you may be sure you have done more good, and not only fastened 
more kindly feelings, but prompted more positive acts of benevol- 
ence, by this little publication, than can be traced to all the pulpits 
and confessionals since Christmas 1842 .” — II 4. 

Who can listen to objection regarding such a book as this ? It 
seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who 
reads it a personal kindness. The last two people I heard speak 
of it were women ; neither knew the other or the author, and both 
said by way of criticism, “ God bless him ! ” What a feeling is this 
for a writer to be able to inspire, and what a reward to reap !— 
W. M. Thackeray. 

If in every alternate work that Mr. Dickens sent to the London 
Press he should find occasion to indulge in ridicule against alleged 
American peculiarities, or broad caricatures of our actual vanities, 
or other follies, we should with the utmost cheerfulness pass them 
by unnoted and uncondemned, if he would only now and then 
present us with an intellectual creation so touching and beautiful 
as the one before us. Indeed, we can with truth say that, in 
our deliberate judgment, the Christmas Carol is the most striking, 
the most picturesque, the most truthful of all the liranings which 
have proceeded from its author’s pen . — The Knickerbocker (New 
York), March 1844. 

It was a blessed inspiration that put such a book into the head 
of Charles Dickens ; a happy inspiration of the heart, that warms 
every page. It is impossible to road, without a glowing bosom 
and burning cheeks, between love and shame for our kind, with 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM, 315 


perhaps a little touch of misgiving whether we are not personally 
open, a crack or so, to the reproach of Wordsworth — 

“The world is too much with us, late and soon, 

Getting and spending,” 

whether our own heads have not become more inaccessible, our 
hearts more impregnable, our ears and eyes more dull and blind 
to sounds and sights of human misery ; if our Charitv altogether is 
not too much of a Clari, thinking of home, home, home, and no 
place but home. In a word, whether we have not grown Scroogey ? 
— Hood's Magazine , January 1844. 

THE CHIMES. 

There are few men (besides Dickens) who can so successfully 
work out an effective tale from slender materials. His graphic 
powers are unsurpassed. A suggestion, a more hint, suffices for his 
purpose : there is no elaboration needed, no long array of person- 
ages or complexity of plot. A sentence, or even a word, an old 
church, a wretched dwelling, a garret or a cellar, a pampered menial, 
or a half-starved and trembling beggar, accomplishes his design. 
ITe sets before us, without apparent effort, in all the distinctness 
and vivid colouring of actual life, the scene or character which he 
wishes to describe. We behold the street, the wretched court, the 
dilapidated staircase, the cold and unfurnished garret to which he 
introduces us, or talk and exchange looks with the persons whom 
he brings on the stage. The truthfulness of his sketches is not 
outward and superficial. It descends to the inner man, embraces 
the qualities of the individual, and sets him before us in all the 
minute as well as the more prominent features of his person and 
character. This constitutes a leading element in the popularity 
of Mr. Dickens, and is illustrated in several instances in the volume 
before us. — Eclectic Review , January 1845. 

We prefer it to the Christmas Carol ; like that, it is a vision, but 
of a more condensed and earnest character. We may say, once 
for all, that it is long since we read prose or poetry which pleased 
us more. There is ono want, however, which we must be excused 
for observing. Wo fear Mr. Dickens’s spirits are too earthly to be 
real visitors from another world. They seem to think too much 
of the creature comforts of Christmas, and to have forgotten alto- 
gether the higher and holier influences of the season — to place the 
enjoyment of the Christmas time in the mirth and jollity which 
accompany it — in the beef, and poultry, and pudding — the games 
and puzzles and forfeits of the evening fireside — without once 
adverting to the Christian character of the festival, or the joy of 
spirit ana peace of conscience which constitute its true and genuine^ 
happiness. — Dublin Review , December 1844. 

When you write to Mr. Dickens, remember us most kindly to 
him. I have made many persons buy The Chimes who were afraid 
it was not amusing, and made them ashamed of expecting nothing 



316 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


better, nothing greater, from such a writer. They can laugh 
until their sides ache over Mrs. Gamp, but they dread weeping over 
dear good Trotty, that personification of goodness ; sweet Meg, the 
beau-id6al of female excellence ; poor Lilian, and the touching but 
stern reality of Bill Fern, which beguiled me of so many tears. We 
should pity such minds, yet they make us too angry for pity. I 
have read The Chimes a third time, and found it as impossible 
to repress my tears when perusing the last scene between Meg 
and Lilian as at the first. — Lady Blessington, 1845. 

THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

If Mr. Dickens really believes that a modest and discreet young 
lady could leave a ballroom on a winter night ; make off w r ith t he 
greatest rake in the parish ; take refuge in the old lady’s, her 
aunt’s ; remain there concealed for a number of years — half a 
dozen — leaving for a long period her nearest relatives in anxiety 
for her fate, and her former neighbours in no doubt regarding her 
character — from no other motive than merely to give her elder 
sister an opportunity of marrying her lover; and if his numerous 
readers imagine the story within the range of probabilities, or the 
conduct of the heroine worthy of imitation, we have nothing to say 
between them, except that the engravings of the volume are well 
executed. — Tati's Edinburgh Magazine , January 1847. 

PICTURES FROM ITALY. 

A production like this, exhibiting, from beginning to end, such 
extreme narrowness, littleness, one-sidedness of mind ; so much 
Cockney trifling and sneering on topics regarded by a hundred and 
fifty millions of Christians as of a solemn and sacred character — 
that such a production should have come to us, under the sanction 
of a name so honoured by us, and, as we fondly thought, so deserv- 
ing of honour, has confounded and shocked us more than we can 
express. The first thing that would strike an impartial reader 
of this book — a reader fully prepared to adopt whatever views, 
favourable or unfavourable, might be borne out by the unexception- 
able testimony — i3, that it is the work of a light-headed, giggling 
person, rambling about in quest of mere amusement and excitement, 
accustomed to view and capable of understanding only a certain 
ridiculous aspect which his own fancy creates in everything about 
him ; to whom laughing is living, and to tickle and to be tickled 
by wit’s feather th3 highest enjoyment of human existence. — 
Dublin Review, September 1840. 

[The reviewer adversely criticises Dickens for his “ unpleasant ” 
way of looking at everything Roman Catholic.] 

DOMBEY AND SON. 

Having been absent a second time from London, I returned to 
it soon after the appearance of No. 1 of the Latter-Day Pamphlets . 
I found Carlyle in one of his sternest moods. ... A single gleam 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 317 


of humour did for a moment lighten the gloom of his denunciations 
of idle pauperism, Poor-Law relief, charitable dole-giving, and all 
the rest of it. He illustrated his attitude towards them by citing 
what he spoke of as “ one of the drollest things that ever came from 
Dickens.” When on the occasion of Mr. Dombey’s second marriage 
he enters the church in which it is to be solemnised, attired in a 
new blue coat, fawn-coloured pantaloons, and lilac waistcoat, 
Mr. Toots, surveying the scene from the gallery, informs in an 
undertone his neighbour and friend the Chicken that this gorgeous 
personage is the bridegroom. The confident pugilist hoarsely 
whispers in reply that Mr. Dombey is “ as stiff a cove as ever he see, 
but that it is within the resources of science to double him up, with 
one blow in the waistcoat.” Carlyle, with grim glee, boasted 
(rashly, it has turned out) that fashionable and complacent as was 
the Philanthropy of the day, it was within the resources of his 
science to “ double it up ! ” — Francis Espinasse. E. 

Writing in January 1847, the novelist said, “ Paul's death has 
amazed Paris.” Lord Jeffrey wrote to the novelist at this time, 
u Oh, my dear, dear Dickens ! Avhat a No. 5 you have given us ! I 
have so cried and sobbed over it last night, and again this morning : 
and felt my heart purified by those tears, and blessed and loved 
you for making me shed them ; and 1 can never bless and love 
you enough. Since t he divine Nelly was found dead on her humble 
couch, beneath the snow and the ivy, there has been nothing like* 
the actual dying of that sweet Paul, in the summer sunshine of that 
lofty room. And the long vista that leads us so "ently and sadly, 
and yet so gracefully and winningly, to the plain consummation ! ” 
— K 1. 

DAVID (JOrPEHFIKLD. 

David Copper field is, in our opinion, the best of all the author’s 
fictions. We have several reasons for suspecting that, here and 
there, under the name of David Copperfield, we have been favoured 
with passages from the personal history, adventures and experience 
of Charles Dickens. — Frasers Magazine , December 1850. 

It is impossible to concede to David Copper field the standing of 
a Avork of high art, nor do we + hink that such a standing has been, 
or will be, seriously claimed for it. It has not, to our thinking, any 
of the higher qualities of art : its texture and style are loose with 
the looseness of mere panorama painting : and its humanity, though 
often simple and Avholesome, is at innumerable points altogether 
distorted and unwholesome. And yet avo are told that this is 
Dickens’s masterpiece : and Ave admit the position. — London 
Quarterly Review , January 1871. 

One author that Alphonse did not read when a youth was Charles 
Dickens, and this is a fact that must be put on record, for super- 
ficial critics have described his work in general, and his novel Le 
Petit Chose in particular, as an imitation of, or at least inspired 



318 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


by, the English writer. The only true comparison which can 
be made between Charles Dickens and Alphonse Daudcb 
is that in appearance they were not unlike, that Alphonse, 
like Charles, had a Micawbor-like father and youth, and that 
certain events in the life of the French writer seemed to be the 
enactment in real life of events imagined and described by the 
English [novelist. David Copper field was written in 1849-50, when 
Alphonse was in the full tide of his Micawber experiences. It had 
been published six years when Mell-like usher experiences came 
to the young Frenchman. Alphonse Daudet is rather sensitive 
* about criticisms implying plagiarism, and quite recently affirmed 
to the writer on his word of honour that at the time when he 
wrote Le Petit Chose he had not read a line of Dickens. . . . 
From the experiences of a Micawber, he was about to pass to 
those of a Mr. Mell, to whom even a Steer forth, in the person of a 
loutish Cevenol lad, was not to be wanting. And be it noticed 
how much in the life of Alphonse Daudet resembles the career of 
David Copperfield. The coincidence of this similarity between 
the life of the young French lad and that of the imagined hero of 
an English novel is so strange that many superficial and malevolent 
critics have accused Daudet of something akin to plagiarism in his 
novel Le Petit Chose , which in its salient particulars is a true record 
of his own experiences. And apropos of this criticism, this is what 
Alphonse Daudet, who feels strongly on the subject, has to say : 

An author who writes in accordance with his eyes and the dictates 
of his conscience can have no answer to make to such a criticism, 
unless it be that there bo certain kinships of imagination for which 
no author is responsible, and that, on the great day on which men 
and novelists were created, Nature, in an absent-minded mood, 
may easily have mixed up her moulds. 1 feel in my heart the 
love which Dickens felt for the poor and the disinherited, for 
troubled childhoods, and all the miseries of life in big cities. Like 
him, my first steps in life were heart-rondingly unhappy ; like 
him, I was forced to earn my bread before 1 was sixteen years of 
age, and in this I imagine lies our greatest resemblance.” — Robert 
Harborbugh Sherard, in Alphonse Daudet . 

BLEAK HOUSE. 

Bleak House would be a heavy book to read through at once, 
as a properly constructed novel ought to bo read. But we must 
plead guilty to having found it dull and wearisome as a serial, 
though certainly not from its want of cleverness or .point. On the 
contrary, almost everybody in the book is excessively funny that 
is not very wicked or very miserable. The love of strong effect, 
and the habit of seizing peculiarities and presenting them instead 
of characters, pervade Mr. Dickens’s gravest and most amiable 
portraits as well as those expressly intended to be ridiculous and 
grotesque. His heroine in Bleak house is a model of unconscious 
goodness, sowing love and reaping it wherever she goes, diffusing 
round her an atmosphere of happiness and a sweet perfume of a 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 319 


pure and kindly nature. Her unconsciousness and sweet humility of 
disposition are so profound that scarcely a page of her autobiography 
is free from a record of these admirable qualities. With delightful 
naivetd she writes down the praises that are showered upon her on 
all hands ; and it is impossible to doubt the simplicity of her nature, 
because she never omits to assert it with emphasis. This is not 
only coarse portraiture, but utterly untrue and inconsistent. Such 
a girl would not write her own memoirs, and certainly would not 
bore one with her goodness till a wicked wish arises that she would 
either do something “spicy” or confine herself to superintending 
the jam-pots at Bleak House. Poor Jo, tho street-sweeping 
urchin, is drawn with a skill that is never more effectively exercised 
than when the outcasts of humanity are its subjects ; a skill which 
seems to depart in proportion as the author rises in the scale of 
society depicted. Dickens has never yet succeeded in catching a 
tolerable likeness of man or woman whose lot is cast among the 
higli-bom and wealthy. Whether it is that the lives of such present 
less that is outwardly funny or grotesque, less that strikes tho eye 
of a man on the look-out for oddity and point, or that he knows 
nothing of their lives, certain it is that his people of station are the 
vilest daubs ; and Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, with his wife 
and family circle, are no exceptions. Clever he undoubtedly is; 
many of his portraits excite pity, and suggest tho existence of crying 
social sins ; but of almost all we are obliged to say that they border 
on and frequently reach caricature, of which the essence is to catch 
a striking likeness by exclusively selecting and exaggerating a 
peculiarity that makes tho man but does not represent him. — 
Spectator, September 24, 1853 [review by George Brimiey]. 

The gem of Bleak House is “ poor Jo,” the crossing-sweeper, 
hapless representative of a class whose very existence from genera- 
tion cries shame on the land in which they dwell. We should not 
do justice to our own feelings, nor to the book under notice, if 
we did not indicate our opinion that os an artist Mr. Dickens is not 
perfect ; while as a teacher his lessons are not always to be relied 
on. One of tho faults with which he may be charged is that of 
exaggeration. Mr. Dickens has found it convenient before to intro* 
duce the ministers of Bethels, Zions, and Ebenezers to his readers ; 
and we regret that he has not been charitable enough to give a 
fairer example of them than is found in Mr. Chadband, a man whose 
principal characteristics are, speaking abominable English, stuffing 
himself with hot muffins, drinking we know not how many cups of 
tea, and rejoicing when he can get a stiff portion of a stronger 
beverage. We suppose Mr. Dickens has not had opportunities 
for judging fairly of tho men whom ho caricatures. We advise him 
to leave them alone, and to eschew allusions to matters which are 
beyond his reach. We understand what he means ; and we con 
tefl him that the violation of good taste, by what better informed 
people know to be scandalously false and mischievous insinua- 
tions, reflects no credit on his intelligence, and can gratify none but 



320 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


the ignorant and irreligious in any rank of life. — Eclectic Review t 
December 1853. 

As a delineator of persons, and the creator of distinct types of 
humanity, he [Dickens] stands second only to Shakespeare ; while 
in fertility of invention he is fully the equal of the great poet of 
humanity. Such are the attractive and winning graces of his style, 
that he can, when character and incident fail him, always secure 
the reader’s attention bv mere profuseness of riotous rhetoric, 
which has no other use than that of diverting his reader. There 
are pages and pages of such writing in Bleak House , as there are in 
many of his other marvellous productions. Marvellous they are 
beyond dispute, for it is a wonderful power that enables a writer, 
who has nothing new to tell the world, whose stylo has lost its 
novelty, if not its charm, to keep possession of the attention of the 
reading world through twenty months, while he is doling out to them, 
every thirty days, bits of a story which in itself has hardly any 
intrinsic interest. In Bleak House , Dickens exhibits his greatest 
defects, and his greatest excellences, as a novelist ; in none of his 
works are the characters more strongly marked, or the plot more 
loosely or inartistically constructed. One half of the personages 
might be ruled out without their loss being perceived, for, although 
they are all introduced with a flourish, as though they had an 
important part to perform, yet there would be no halt in the story if 
they were dropped by the way, as some of them are. — Putnam's 
Monthly Magazine (New York), November 1853 [review by C. F. 
Riggs], 

There is no great writer living who affords a stronger proof of the 
danger of disregarding the Horatian maxim — nocturna versale manu 9 
versate diurna — than Mr. Dickens. His books bear upon their face 
abundant evidence of the manner of their composition ; all are 
plainly written cur rente calamo. fn point of literary merit we think 
Bleak House is a falling-off from its predecessors. In fact, ever 
since Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop, we are of the 
opinion that Mr. Dickens’s works have declined in interest. That 
they are all clever is not to be denied ; people would not endure, the 
continual jargon in which the tale is told, wore it not that the mass 
is leavened by constant sprightliness of thought, and not unfre- 
quently by exhibitions of positive genius. — North American Review 
(Boston), October 1853. 

At length our anxiety is relieved, our fearful excitement quieted ! 
Mr. Charles Dickens has shut up Bleak House, and put the key in 
his pocket. The curtain has fallen on the last and twentieth act 
of the interesting melodrama : the novel Bleak House is ended. 
The final catastrophe is not so alarmingly strong as might have 
been expected. In fact, wo were rather disappointed at not getting 
something more startling as a finale from a gentleman who had — 
(1) Killed Mr. Krook, by spontaneous combustion ; (2) poisoned off 
a mysterious opium-eater and law-writer ; (3) sent a mad Chancery 
suitor beyond the troubles of this world and all earthly litigation %. 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 321 


(4) “ moved on ” poor Jo to such an extent, that he had (as the 
spirit-rappers say) begun to move “ in quite another sphere ; ” 

(5) caused a lady of fashion to die at the door of a graveyard ; (6) made 
a French lady’s-maid shoot old Mr. Tulkinghorn, the attorney, 
with an old Roman in fresco for her accomplice — not to mention 
the death of a baby or two, with some less important characters, 
and a young lady’s beauty destroyed by the small -pox, scarcely 
the least cruel feature of Mr. Dickens’s most murderous system of 
novelism ! Well, after all this slaughter of men, women, babies, 
and beauty, we certainly did expect a consistent ending to so con- 
sistent a beginning and middle. But Mr. Dickens laughs at con- 
sistency. lie writes on as hard as he can, without looking behind 
him, till he finds that he has full a couple of sheets to wind up in. 
Now r , in the space of two sheets, a dexterous author might surely 
kill off the balance of his personages, leaving, of course, one alive to 
tell the fatal story. Eugene Sue would have done it in a page if 
necessary. We could have done it ourselves in a sheet, even though 
>ve had resorted to the boldest devices; such, for example, as an 
earthquake, a plague, a famine, or any other form of battle, murder, 
and sudden death. But Dickens fails ingloriously at the conclusion 
of his campaign. “ He caves in,” if wo may use the expression in a 
solemn critical article, and not only leaves the young lady, whose 
autobiography he writes, alive (though marked with small-pox), 
but actually married and happy. Dickens is — to use a German 
formula— a terrible objective writer. He describes the external, 
as an indication of the internal ; but profound analysis of thought 
or feeling is strange to him. He hardly draws his characters from 
a just point of view. He takes them as they may be, or appear to 
be, and gives as it were a hasty impression. Get up, someone, and 
write a match against Buhver and Dickens ! In sober earnest, it 
is not half so ditlicult as it looks . — United States Magazine and 
Democratic Review (New York), September 1853. 

HARD TIMES. 

At the very commencement of Hard Times, we find ourselves 
introduced to a set of hard, uncouth personages, of whose existence 
as a class no one is aware, who are engaged in cutting and paring 
young souls after their own ugly pattern, and refusing them all other 
nourishment but facts and figures. The unpleasant impression 
caused by being thus suddenly introduced into this cold and un- 
congenial atmosphere is never effaced by the subsequent charm 
of narrative and well-painted characters of the tale. His characters, 
even when they are only of the bourgeois class, are nearly always 
furnished with some peculiarity, which, like the weight of a Dutch 
clock, is their ever-gravitating principle of action. The consequence 
is, they have, most of them, the appearance of puppets which Mr. 
Dickons lias constructed expressly for his present purpose. Mr. 
Bounderby, for example, is a most outrageous character ; who can 
believe in the possibility of such a man ? — Westminster Review, 
October 1854. 
n 



322 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


Writing to Mrs. Pollock, 5th August 1854, Macready said, “ Have 
you looked at the last cruel number of Hard Times . The heart- 
breaking conclusion of it should justify our sending a round-robin 
of remonstrance to Dickens.” — Macready’s Reminiscences . 

The essential value and truth of Dickens's writings have been 
unwisely lost sight of by many thoughtful persons, merely because 
he presents his truth with some colour of caricature. Unwisely, 
because Dickens’s caricature, though often gross, is never mistaken. 
Allowing for his manner of telling them, the things he tells us are 
always true. I wish that he could think it right to limit his brilliant 
e x agg e ration to works written only for public amusement ; and 
when he takes up a subject of high national importance, such as 
that which he handled in Hard Times , that ho would use severer 
and more accurate analysis. The usefulness of the work (to my 
mind, in several respects the greatest he has written) is with many 
people seriously diminished, because Mr. Bounderby is a dramatic 
monster, instead of a characteristic example of a worldly master ; 
and Stephen Blackpool a dramatic perfection, instead of a char- 
acteristic example of an honest workman. But let us not lose 
the use of Dickens’s wit and insight because he chooses to speak in a 
circle of stage fire. He is entirely light in his main drift and purpose 
in every book he has written ; and all of them, but especially Hard 
Times , should be studied with close and earnest care by persons 
interested in social questions. They will find much that is partial, 
and, because partial, apparently unjust ; but if they examine all the 
evidence on the other side, which Dickens seems to overlook, it 
will appear, after all their trouble, that his view was the finally 
right one, grossly and sharply told. — John Rusk in, in Unto This 
Last . 

LITTLE DORRIT. 

In the Edinburgh Review , July 1857, appeared a long criticism 
of Little Dorrity which was considered in conjunction with Charles 
Reades It's Never Too Late to Mend and Mrs. GaskelTs Life of 
Charlotte Bronte. The reviewer condemns the influence which 
certain novels exercise over the moral and political opinions of the 
young, the ignorant, and the inexperienced, and contends that the 
first and second of the novels referred to tend to beget hasty general- 
isations and false conclusions, “ In every new novel,” says the 
reviewer, “ Dickens selects one or two of the popular cries of the 
day, to serve as seasoning to the dish which ho sets before his readers. 
Even the catastrophe in Little Dorr it is evidently borrowed from the 
recent fall of houses in Tottenham Court Road, which happens to 
have appeared in the newspapers at a convenient moment.” Pro- 
ceeding, the writer denounces Dickens’s “ imputations against the 
Government, the judges, and private individuals, so grave, so 
unjust, so cruel, that we think it is the duty of criticism to expose 
them.” He goes on to ridicule the phrase about “ the Circum- 
locution Office,” and to cite the case of Mr. Rowdand Hill, asking* 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 323 

Did the Circumlocution Office neglect him, traduce him, break 
his heart, and ruin his fortune ? They adopted his scheme, and 
gave him the leading share in carrying it out, and yet this is the 
Government which Mr. Dickens declares to be a sworn foe to 
talent, and a systematic enemy to ingenuity.” 

In an article entitled “ Curious Misprint in the Edinburgh Review ,” 
in Household Words, 1st August 1857, Dickens refuted these criti- 
cisms, and pointed out that, so far as the fall of houses in Tottenham 
Court Road was concerned, on a critical examination of the pages of 
Little Dorrit , it would be seen that the catastrophe referred to there 
was “ carefully prepared for from the very first presentation of the 
old house in the story, and was in proof before the accident in the 
Tottenham Court Road occurred.” He went on to allude to the 
case of Mr. Rowland Hill : tl The curious misprint here is the name 
of Mr. Rowland Hill ” ; and proves that the Government had treated 
him in the manner of the Circumlocution Office, and if he had not 
been “in toughness a man of a hundred thousand the Circum- 
locution Office would have made a dead man of him long and long 
ago,” while, after it had adopted his penny postage scheme, “ it 
summarily dismissed Mr. Rowland Hill altogether ! ” Dickens 
concluded by hinting that the Edinburgh Review should correct 
this curious misprint and substitute the right name, and, moreover, 
should also “ take its next opportunity of manfully expressing its 
regret that in too distempered a zeal for the Circumlocution Office, 
it has been betrayed, as to the Tottenham Court Road assertion, 
into a hasty substitution of untruth for truth.” 

In the Edinburgh Review, October 1857, appeared the following : 
“ In answer to some of the remarks contained in our review r of Little 
Dorrit, Mr. Dickens states, in the Household Words of the 1st of 
August, that the catastrophe of that talo formed part of his original 
plan, and was not suggested by a contemporary occurrence. The 
coincidence we pointed out was therefore accidental.” 

A TALE OP TW T 0 CITIES. 

In A Tale of Tux? Cities Mr. Dickens has reached the Castle 
Dangerous stage without Sir Walter Scott's excuse ; and instead 
of wholesome food ill-dressed, ho has put before his readers dishes 
of which the quality is not disguised by the cooking. It would 
perhaps bo hard to imagine a clumsier or more disjointed frame- 
work for the display of the tawdry wares which form Mr. Dickens’s 
stock-in-trade. The broken - backed way in w hich the story 
maunders along from 1775 to 1792, and back again to 1760 or 
thereabouts, is an excellent instance of the complete disregard of 
the rules of literary composition which liavo marked tho whole of 
Mr. Dickens’s career as an author. No portion of his popularity 
is due to intellectual excellence. The higher pleasures which novels 
are capable of giving are those which are derived from the develop- 
ment of a skilfully constructed plot, or the careful and moderate 
delineation of character ; and neither of these is to bo found in Mr. 
Dickens’s works, nor has his influence over his contemporaries had 



324 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

the slightest tendency to promote tho cultivation by others of the 
qualities which produce them. The two main sources of his popu- 
larity are his power of working upon the feelings by the coarsest 
stimulants, and his power of setting common occurrences in a gro- 
tesque and unexpected light. In his earlier works, the skill and vigour 
with which these operations were performed were so remarkable 
as to make it difficult to analyse the precise means by w r hich the 
effect was produced on the mind of the reader. Now that familiarity 
has deprived his books of the gloss and freshness which they formerly 
possessed, the mechanism is laid bare ; and tho fact that the means 
by w r hich the effect is produced are really mechanical has become 
painfully apparent. It would not, indeed, he matter of much 
difficulty to frame from such a book as .4 Talc of Two Cities regular 
recipes for grotesque and pathetic writing, by which any required 
quantity of the article might be produced with infallible certainty. 
The production of pathos is the simpler of the two. With a little 
practice and a good deal of determination it would really be as easy 
to harrow up people’s feelings as to poke the fire. The whole art 
is to take a melancholy subject, and rub the reader’s nose in it, and 
this does not require any particular amount of skill or knowledge. 
To be grotesque is a rather more difficult trick than to be pathetic ; 
but it is just as much a trick, capable of being learned and performed 
almost mechanically. One principal element of grotesqueness is 
unexpected incongruity ; and inasmuch as most things are different 
from most other things, there is in nature a supply of this element 
of grotesqueness which is absolutely inexhaustible. Whenever 
Mr. Dickens writes a novel, he makes two or three comic characters 
just as he might cut a pig out of a piece of orange peel. In the 
present story there are tw'o comic characters, one of which is amusing 
by reason of the facts that his name is Jerry Cruncher, that Ins 
hair sticks out like iron spikes, and that, having reproached his w ife 
for “ flopping down on her knees ” to pray, he goes on for seventeen 
years speaking of praying as “ flopping.”" If, instead of saying that 
his hair was like iron spikes, Mr. Dickens had said his ears were 
like mutton-chops, or his nose like a Bologna sausage, the effect 
would have been much the same. One of his former characters 
was identified by a habit of staring at things and people with his 
teeth, and another by a propensity to draw his moustache up 
imder his nose, and his nose down over his moustache. As there 
are many members in one body, Mr. Dickens may possibly live 
long enough to have a character for each of them, so that he may have 
one character identified by his eyebrows, another by his nostrils, 
and another by his toe-nails. No popularity can disguise the fact 
that this is the very lowest of low styles of art. England as well 
as France comes in for Mr. Dickens’s favours. He takes a sort of 
pleasure, which appears to us insolent and unbecomingin the extreme, 
in drawing the attention of his readers exclusively to the bad and 
weak points in tho history and character -of their immediate an- 
cestors. The grandfathers of the present generation were, according 
to him, a sort of savages, or very little better. They were cruel* 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. 325 


bigoted, unjust, ill-governed, oppressed, and neglected in e very- 
possible way. The childish delight with which Mr. Dickens acts 
Jack Horner, and says, “ What a good boy am I,” in comparison 
with my benighted ancestors, is thoroughly contemptible . — Saturday 
Review , December 17, 1859. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 

A furious assault was made upon him (Dickens) some two years 
since by the Saturday Review , and it may be in the memory of 
readers that a report for some time obtained, that after reading 
that review Mr. Dickens retired to bed and remained for months 
in a state of hopeless lethargy, that it needed the constant applica- 
tion of warm flannels, and bathings of mustard and turpentine, and 
the united influence of at least a dozen physicians to restore him 
to consciousness. We are glad, however, to find that he has survived 
the attack, and comes before the world with a work equalling, 
perhaps, in every way, any of the cheerful creations of his observant 
mind and graphic pen. We firmly believe Mr. Dickens knows 
as much of the ways and manners of religious people as a Hottentot 
(a gentle critic reminded us, when we said so, that “ we love him so 
much we wish he knew more ”) ; and when he paints religious 
people, or attempts to do so, he draws entirely upon the stores of his 
iniinite fancy. No reader of Dickens has to be told to notice how 
he piles absurdities in rapid succession upon each other, like the very 
bricks of his humorous building. He sees in the most out-of-the- 
way objects grotesque, and queer, and comical analogies ; he sets 
but light store by them, for they roll and tumble about like waves 
over and through all his works. Indeed, many will be inclined 
to regard them as one of his chief excellences ; on the contrary, they 
are the vice of his writings. His profusion of absurdity, his per- 
ception of the ludicrous analogies of things, is not short of amazing. 
— Eclectic Review , October 1801. 

On the whole to us, not expecting very great things, this novel 
has proved an agreeable surprise. More compact than usual in 
its structure, it contains a good many striking passages, a few racy 
and one or two masterly portraits, a story for the most part cleverly 
sustained and wrought out to no lame or disjointed issues. In 
his characters, Mr. Dickens repeats himself least of all living 
novelists — a virtuo which time has not yet impaired, and on which 
too great a stress can hardly be laid. Those in his present work 
are for the most part not more distinct from each other than from 
any to be found in former works. His plot, like his characters, 
however improbable, has a kind of artistic unity and clear purpose, 
enhanced in this case by tho absence of much line -drawn senti- 
ment and the scarcity of surplus details. If the author must "keep 
on writing novels to the last, we shall be quite content to gauge 
the worth of his future essays by the standard furnished to us in 
Great Expectations . After a careful reading of Great Expectations > 
we must own to having found the book in most ways better than 



326 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


-our very small expectations could have foreboded. But, in saying 
this much, we are very far from endorsing the notion that it comes 
in any way near those earlier works which made, and which alone 
aro likely hereafter to keep alive, their author’s fame. — Dublin 
University Magazine , December 1861. 

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. 

Mr. Dickens has now, to our knowledge, for sixteen years been 
haunted by a great dust-heap. In the Household Words for 1850 
first appeared the account of that amazing mound. All his life 
long, at any rate in all that portion of it with which the public 
is acquainted, our writer has been industriously engaged in attempt- 
ing to ferret out the bright things in dirty places ; he has been 
like a_ very Parisian chiffon nier, industriously searching, with 
intense eye, among the sweepings, the odds and ends and puddles 
of society, if haply some overlooked and undiscovered loveliness 
might not be found there. In the sixteenth number of the House- 
hold Words for 1850, lie surprised many of his readers by a descrip- 
tion of some of these huge suburban heaps and mounds, more 
common and conspicuous, we fancy, then than now. We should 
think that our readers have not forgotten that paper. A dust- 
heap, he told his readers, was very frequently worth thousands of 
pounds. . . . Perhaps, as a story, it is quite equal to any Mr. Dickens 
has told : it is sustained throughout ; there is nothing in the 
plot too strained or unnatural. There are many things in the 
writings of Mr. Dickens, perhaps in these volumes, which we 
regret, and from which we are free to dissent ; but, true in these, 
his last essays, to the spirit of his earliest works, the poor — the 
poor, lowly, unknown outcasts and offcasts — seem to be the objects 
of intensest interest to him. Our admiration of him is not un- 
consciousness of other qualities possessed by other writers, and 
which he does not possess ; but in the feeling of the infinite ease 
with which he manipulates his own material — the rapid spring and 
dart of his social sympathies, and of that overflowing kindness of 
heart which his wide knowledge of man in all his relations, that 
shrewd glance into social foibles and appalling sins, aro unable 
to impair or prevent. We close the volumes, and put them by 
with gratitude for much pleasure, and more especially with thank- 
fulness that Mr. Dickens, being where he is, and what ho is, is 
able so courageously to speak, and preach to, and reprove some 
of our great social sins ; and with thankfulness too, for the hope 
that ho may yet be spared for many years to do the work of a 
man and a brother, in the work of an artist. — Eclectic Review , 
November 1865. 

Our Mutual Friend is, to our perception, the poorest of Mr. 
Dickens’s works. And it is poor with the poverty not of momentary 
embarrassment, but of permanent exhaustion. It is wanting in 
inspiration. For the last ten years it has seemed to us that Mr. 
Dickens has been unmistakably forcing himself. Bleak House was 



DICKENS IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM. '327 


forced ; Little Dorrit was laboured ; the present work is dug out a® 
with a spade and pickaxe. Of course — to anticipate the usual 
argument — who but Dickens could have written it ? Who, indeed l 
Who else could have established a lady in business in a novel on 
the admirably solid basis of her always putting on gloves and tying 
a handkerchief round her head in moments of grief, and of her 
habitually addressing her family with “ Peace ! hold ! ” It is 
hardly too much to say that every character here put before us is 
a mere bundle of eccentricities, animated by no principle of nature 
whatever. The word humanity strikes us as strangely discordant 
in the midst of these pages, for, let us boldly declare it, there is 
no humanity here. — Nation (New York), December 21, 1865. 

His severest critics, we suppose, will not deny Mr. Dickens’s 
genius, not of the highest indeed, but still of a very rare order. 
When we look back upon his long gallery of portraits, Sam Weller, 
Chadband, Pecksniff, Pickwick, and Mrs. Gamp; when we consider 
how much we should lose if deprived of all these, and all their whims 
and fancies, we must confess that their creator does not belong to 
the common roll of authors. But, on the other hand, when we 
compare Mr. Dickens to the world’s great humorists — Aristo- 
phanes, Moliere, Swift, Cervantes, and Shakespeare — then we see 
liow far short lie comes of the highest rank of genius. Pecksniff 
weighs as chaff in the balance against Tartu ffe, and Pickwick is a 
mere monster beside the Don of Spain. The more we study Falstaff, 
Gulliver, and Saneho Panza, the more we perceive the art of the 
artist and thinker ; but the closer we look at Mr. Dickens’s char- 
acters, the more we detect the trickery of an artificer. The more 
we analyse Mr. Dickens, the more \\e perceive that his humour 
runs into riotous extravagance, while his pathos degenerates into 
sentimentality. His characters, in fact, aro a bundle of deformities.. 
And he appears, too, to value them because they aro deformed, as 
some minds value a crooked sixpence more than a sound coin. He 
has made the fatal mistake against which Goethe warned the artist. 
Everything with him is not supra naturam, but extra naturam . His 
whole art is founded on false principles. A number of automatons 
are moving about, who are all, so to speak, tattooed with various, 
characteristics. There is the great automaton, Podsnap, who is. 
tattooed with a flourish of the right arm and a flush of the face, and 
the minor automaton, Mr. Lammle, who is tattooed with ginger 
eyebrows. Dancers are called <k bathers,” and one of them is 
distinguished by his ambling. In fact, Mr. Dickens here seems 
to regard his characters as Du Frcsne says the English did their 
dogs, quanto deformiores co mmorcs aestimant. We believe that all 
England would have been deepty shocked had Mr. Dickens been 
killed in the Stapleliurst accident. But many minds will be equally 
shocked by the melodramatic way in which he speaks of his escape. 
Those who are curious to understand the tricks of his style should 
analyse the last section. He first endeavours to raise a joke about 
Mr. and Mrs. Lammle, “ in their manuscript dress,” and his other 
fictitious characters being rescued from the railway carriage, and 



328 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


then turns off to moralise and improve upon his own escape, con- 
eluding the whole with a theatrical tag about “ The End,” which 
refers both to the conclusion of the book and his life. We write 
this in no carping spirit, but because it so fully explains to us the 
cause of Mr. Dickens’s failures — a want of sincerity, and the deter- 
mination to raise either a laugh or a tear at the expense of the most 
Sacred of things . — Westminster Review , April 1S66. 

I left the country on parole, if I may put it so, and started on my 
expedition [to Algeria]. I went direct to Paris, spent only one 
night there, and next morning took the train for Marseilles. That 
much of the journey was not unfamiliar to me, and 1 can remember 
that I beguiled most of my hours in the train by reading over again, 
and not even for the second time, Our Mutual Friend. I suppose 
that anyone with a properly balanced mind would, if he thought it 
judicious to read for hours in an express train, have read something 
which fitted in with the scenery or the historical associations of the 
country through which he was travelling. Put 1 had come across 
Our Mutual Friend by chance just as 1 was leaving London, and 
thought I could not beguile my journey more agreeably than by 
studying once again a novel to which 1 think that even Dickens’s 
warmest admirers have not always done justice. For myself, 1 am 
inclined to rank it among the best of the great master's novels, and 
I enjoyed it more than ever during this day of foreign travel. I 
can now never hear the name of Our Mutual Friend mentioned 
without finding that journey from Paris to Marseilles brought back 
vividly to my memory, and without seeing myself in the railway 
carriage bending over the pages of the delightful novel. — Justin 
McCarthy, in The Story of an Irishman. 

EDWIN DROOD. 

So far as we can judge by close observation of those who now 
read Edwin Drood at the same age at which most of us first learnt 
to enjoy the Old Curiosity Shop and Martin Chuzzlcwit , there does 
not seem to be any deficiency in the capacity of the rising genera- 
tion to enter heartily into its still fresh humour. Edwin Drood does 
not seem to us nearer the standard of his first few works than any- 
thing he had written for many years back. No doubt there are 
all Mr. Dickens’s faults in this story quite unchanged. He never 
learned to draw a human being as distinct from an oddity, and all 
his characters which are not oddities are false. Again, he never 
learned the distinguished signs of genuine sentiment ; and just as 
nothing can be vulgarer than the sentimental passages in Nicholas 
Nickleby and Martin Chuzzlcwit , so nothing can, at any rate, bo much 
falser or in worst taste than the sentimental scenes in Edurin Drood . — 
.Spectator , October 1, 1870. 



XVI 


THE PRAISE OF DICKENS 

ANTHONY TROLLOPE. 

Whatever he did seemed to come from him easily, as though he 
delighted in the doing of it. To hear him speak was to long to be 
a speaker oneself ; because the thing, w hen properly managed, 
could evidently be done so easily, so pleasantly, with such gratifica- 
tion not only to all hearers, but to oneself. Of his novels, the first 
striking circumstance is their unprecedented popularity. When the 
masses of English readers, in all English reading countries, have 
agreed to love the waitings of any writer, their verdict will be stronger 
than that of any one judge, let that judge be ever so learned and 
ever so thoughtful. However the writer may have achieved his 
object, he has accomplished that which must be the desire of every 
author, — he has spoken to men and women w r ho have opened their 
ears to his w r ords, and have listened to them. In this respect Dickens 
was, probably, more fortunate during his ow r n life than any writer 
that ever lived. The English-speaking public may be counted, 
perhaps, as a hundred millions, and wherever English is read these 
books are popular from the highest to the lowest, — among all classes 
that read. And no other writer of the English language except 
Shakespeare has left so many types of character as Dickens has 
done, characters which are known by their names familiarly as 
household words, and which bring to our minds, vividly and at 
once, a certain well -understood set of ideas, habits, phrases, and 
costumes, making together a man, or woman, or child, w r hom we 
know at a glance and recognise at a sound, — as we do our own inti- 
mate friends. And it may be doubted whether even Shakespeare 
has done this for so wide a circle of acquaintance. Most of us have 
probably heard Dickens’s works often criticised, want of art in 
the choice of words and w ant of naturo in the creation of character, 
having been the faults most frequently attributed to him. But 
his words have been so potent, whether they may be right or wTong 
according to any fixed rule, that they have justified themselves by 
making themselves into a language w hich is in itself popular ; and his 
characters, if unnatural, have mado a second naturo by their own 
force. It is fatuous to condemn that as deficient in art which has 
been so full of art os to captivate all men. If the thing be done 



330 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


which was the aim of the artist — fully done — done beyond the 
power of other artists to accomplish, — the timo for criticising the 
mode of doing it is gone by. The example, indeed, may be dangerous 
to others ; as they have found who have imitated Dickons, and 
others will find who may imitate him in future. It always seemed 
to me that no man ever devoted himself so entirely as Charles 
Dickens to things which he understood, and in which he could work 
with effect. Of other matters he seemed to have a disregard, — 
and for many things almost a contempt which was marvellous. 
To literature in all its branches his attachment was deep, — and his 
belief in it w^as a thorough conviction. He could speak about it 
as no other man spoke. He was always enthusiastic in its in- 
terests, ready to push on beginners, quick to encourage those w T ho 
w r cre winning their way to success, sympathetic with his contem- 
poraries, and greatly generous to aid those who were failing. He 
thoroughly believed in literature, but in politics he seemed to have 
no belief at all. As years roll on we shall learn to appreciate his 
loss. He now rests in the spot consecrated to the memory of our 
greatest and noblest ; and Englishmen would certainly not have 
been contented had he been laid elsewhere. — Anthony Trollope, in 
St. Paul's Magazine , July 1870. 

MONCURE D. CONWAY. 

Charles Dickens came like one of our Rappahannock freshets, 
which once or twice rose high enough to float logs in our wood-cellar. 
Methodist prejudices against novel-reading were in this case floated, 
and I remember my parents laughing and wxeping over the books 
of “ Boz ” w r hile I was only old enough to build infant romances 
out of Cruikshank’s illustrations. Dickens supplied our homes with 
new fables, phrases, types. Our neighbour, Douglas Gordon, broke 
a small blood-vessel laughing over Pickwick , and we pitied him not 
for the lesson, but because his doctor forbade him to read Dickens. 
My baby-brother Richard acquired by his infant excitability the 
sobriquet “ Tim Linkinwater .” — C 3. 

DEAN HOLE. 

Charles Dickens admitted my claim to be one of his earliest and 
most enthusiastic admirers, when I told him that, as a boy at school, 
with an infinite appreciation of cheesecakes, I had nevertheless 
saved half my income, sixpence a week, to buy the monthly numbers 
of Pickwick ; and he expressed his hope that I should bo interested 
in somo of the scenes of his stories when I camo to his home at 
Gad’s Hill. I little thought that circumstances, which I need not 
detail, would prevent me from entering that house until the 
illustrious owner had been many years in his grave ; or that I should 
pass the latter portion of my life on earth among the scenes to which 
he referred ; little more than a mile from the homo and school of 
his childhood at Chatham. ... I too enjoyed, as Dickons enjoyed, 
the woods and glades of beautiful Cobham, having free access from 



THE PRAISE OF DICKENS. 


331 


the generous owner ; and in its garden grounds have sat in the Swiss 
chalet, which the great actor (Fechter) gave to the great author, and 
in which, placed in a shrubbery, and bright with mirrors, reflecting 
the fields around, he wrote, with flowers always on his table, and the 
birds singing around him, in the summer months. It was removed 
after his death, to Cobham, and is safe from pocket-knives and petty 
larcenies in the careful custody of Lord Damley. In this chalet he 
passed the greater part of his last day on earth, 8th June 1870, 
writing the unfinished story of Edwin Drood. Coming yet nearer 
home, I little thought when, in that same history of Edwin Drood, 

I read of “ the ancient English cathedral, having for sufficient 
reasons the fictitious name of Cloisterham,” but being Rochester, 
of Minor Canon Corner, and of “ the dean, who, with a pleasant 
air of patronage, as nearly cocks his quaint hat as a dean in good 
spirits may ” (Dickens forgot that the hat decanal is cocked always), 

“ and directs his comely gaiters homewards” — I little thought, 
one hundred and fifty miles away, that on this stage, and in that* 
character and costume, I was to conclude the little drama of my 
lfe. 

A critical autocrat recently informed me that “ Charles Dickens 
was going out of fashion ” ; whereupon I inquired, as one profoundly 
impressed, and gasping for more information, “ whether he thought 
that Shakespeare would be h la mode this season, and what he 
considered the newest and sweetest thing in the beau monde of 
intellect ? ” Pickwick , Nicholas NicHeby , Oliver Twisty The Old 
Curiosity Shop, David Copper field, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas 
Carol, out of fashion ! Not while the English language remains 
as now, and they who speak it have brains to appreciate humour, 
and hearts to sympathise with woe . — II 3. 

JAMES PAYN. 

Personal acquaintance with him increased rather than diminished 
his marvellous attraction for me. In general society, especially 
if it has been of an artificial kind, I have known his manner to betray 
some senso of effort, but in a company with whom he could feel at 
home, I have never met a man more natural or more charming. 
He never wasted time in commonplaces — though a lively talker, 
he never uttered a platitude — and what ho had to say he said as if 
he meant it. On an occasion lie once spoke of himself as 4 4 very 
human ” : he did so, of course, in a depreciatory sense ; he was the 
last person in the world to affect to possess any other nature than 
that of his fellows. When someone said, “ How wicked the world 
is ! ” he answered, 44 True ; and what a satisfaction it is that neither 
you nor I belong to it.” But the fact is, it was this very humanity 
which was his charm. Whatever there was of him was real without 
padding ; and whatever was genuine in others had a sympathetic 
attraction for him. The subject, however, which most interested 
him (and, in a less degree, this was also the ease with Thackeray) 
was the dramatic — nay, even the melodramatic — side of human 
nature. He hod stories without end, taken from the very page of 



332 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


life, of quite a different kind from those with which he made his 
readers familiar. There are, indeed, indications of this tendency 
in his writings, as in the tales interspersed in Pickwick , in the aban- 
doned commencement of Humphrey's Clock , and, more markedly, 
in his occasional sketches, but they were much more common in his 
private talk. When visiting the exhibition of Hablot Browne's 
pictures the other day I was much struck by the fact that, when 
indulging his own taste, the subjects chosen by the artist were not 
humorous but sombre and eerie. This, I feel sure, was what made 
him so acceptable an illustrator to Dickens. He could not only 
depict humorous scenes with feeling, but also such grim imaginings 
as the old Roman looking down on dead Mr. Tulkinghorn, and the 
Ghost Walk at Chcsney Wold. The mind of Dickens, which most 
of his readers picture to themselves as revelling in sunshine, was in 
fact more attracted to the darker side of life, though there was far 
too much of geniality in him to permit it to become morbid. On the 
occasion of our first- meeting, however [in 1857], I saw nothing of 
all this : he was full of fun and brightness, and in five minutes 
I felt as much at my ease with him as though I had known him as 
long as I had known his books. — P 4. 

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE. 

Twenty pages of the Quarterly Pi (view, July 1902, were occupied 
by an appreciation of the work of Charles Dickens, by the late 
Mr. Sw inburne. His severest censure was reserved for “ the cheap- 
jack Radicalism ” of the Child's History of England. But his 
chief scorn was expended on those who had adversely criticised 
Dickens. Those w ho deny truthfulness and realism to the imagina- 
tion or genius of Dickens were “ blatant boobies ! “ The in- 

credible immensity of Dickens's creative power sufficed for a fame 
great enough to deserve the applause and the thanksgiving of all 
men w T orthy to acclaim it, and the contempt of such a Triton of the 
minnows as Matthew Arnold.” The criticism of G. H. Lew r es 
provoked him to speak of the “ chattering duncery and the impudent 
malignity of so consummate and psoudosophical a quack as George 
Henry Lewes. Not even such a paM-master in the noble science 
of defamation could plausibly have dared to cite in support of his 
insolent and idiotic impeachment either the leading or the supple- 
mentary characters in A Tale of Two Cities .” Swinburne did not 
like Little Nell. “ She is a monster as inhuman as a baby with 
two heads.” He did not think very much of Nicholas Nickleljy ; 
he did not consider The Old Curiosity Shop in any way a good 
story ; and he was not enthusiastic about Dombey and Son . But 
of almost all the other novels he had nothing but unstinted praise. 
Dickens’s two best novels, he thought, were David Cop^terfield and 
Great Expectations. Of David Copper field he wrote : “ From the 
first chapter to the last it is unmistakable by any eye above the 
level and beyond the insight of a beetle’s as ono of the masterpieces 
to which time can only add a new charm and an unimaginable value.” 
For the perfect excellence of this masterpiece he found no words 



THE PRAISE OF DICKENS. 


333 


too strong. The story he regarded as incomparably finer than 
Great Expectations. There could be none superior, if there be any 
equal to it, in the whole range of English fiction, except Vanity 
Fair and The Newcomes , if even they might claim exception. There 
could surely be found no equal or nearly equal number of living 
and ever - living figures. Great Expectations was Dickens’s last 
great work. The defects in it were nearly as imperceptible as spots 
on the sun or shadows on a sunlit sea. Barnaby Badge could 
hardly in common justice be said to fail short of the crowning 
phrase of being a faultless work of creation. In Martin Chuzzlewit , 
that neglected and irregular masterpiece, his comic and his tragic 
genius rose now and then to the very highest pitch of all. Sairey 
Cam}) had once again risen to the unimaginable supremacy of 
triumph by rivalling the unspeakable perfection of Mrs. Quickly’s 
eloquence at its best. 

“ We acknowledge with infinite thanksgiving of inexhaustible 
laughter and of rapturous admiration the very greatest comic 
poet or creator that ever lived to make the life of other men more 
bright and more glad and more perfect than ever, without his 
beneficent influence, it possibly or imaginably could have been.” 

Mr. Swinburne again and again returned to David Copper field , 
“ w hich is perhaps the greatest gift bestowed on us by this magni- 
ficent- and immortal benefactor.” Of A Tale of Two Cities , he wrote 
that it was the most ingeniously and inventively and dramatically 
constructed of all the master's works, but Hard Times was greater 
in moral and pathetic and humorous effect. Of A Tale of Two 
Cities, Mr. Swinburne said that “this faultless work of tragic and 
creative art has nothing of the rich and various exuberance which 
makes of Barnaby Badge so marvellous an example of youthful 
genius in all the glowing growth of its bright and fiery April ; but 
it has the classic and poetic symmetry of perfect execution and of 
perfect design.” Of Little Dorr it , whom lie described as “Little 
Nell grown big,” he wrote that it contained many passages of 
unsurpassable excellence. “ The fusion of humour and horror in 
the marvellous chapter which describes the day after the death of 
Mr. Merdle is comparable only with the kindred work of such 
creators as the authors of Lcs Miserablvs and King Lear , and nothing 
in the work of Balzac is newer and truer and more terrible than 
tiie relentless yet not unmerciful evolution of the central figure in 
the story.” 


MR. W. S. LILLY. 

On 18th January 1805, Mr. W. S. Lilly commenced a series of 
lectures at the Royal Institution on “Four English Humorists of 
the Nineteenth Century.” In his first address, on “The Humorist 
as Democrat,” ho took Charles Dickens as his representative man. 
Commencing with a definition of “ humorist,” Mr. Lilly insisted 
on the necessity of genius in the constitution of that character. 
The humorous genius treated his subject with playfulness. The 



334 DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 

time.had now arrived, he said, when we could fairly judge of Dickens 
as a literary artist, since the magnetic spell of his personality held 
us captive no longer. That magnetism was a marvellous thing. 
Sydney Smith said, “ I resisted Mr. Dickens as long as I could, 
but he has conquered me.” As a boy, the lecturer admitted, he 
too had been conquered. And yet to-day he had to confess that 
he went back to Dickens with an effort. In his latter days Dickens 
was fond of talking about his “ art ; ” he considered his later work 
his best. The truth was, his best work was done at the commence- 
ment of his career. Pickwick was his greatest achievement ; the 
•fun was unequalled, the pathos of the finest order in many places. 
Yet the author thought slightly of it ; he aimed at “ better work ; ” 
throughout his whole career he strove earnestly after a standard 
of perfection which he never actually realised. Perhaps he 
came nearest to this in David Copper field. With vigour and origin- 
ality he was superabundantly endowed. Originality became a 
passion. He lived in his w r ork ; the children of his brain were as 
real as those of flesh and blood to him, and that was precisely the 
reason why he made them so real to us, notwithstanding that they 
might be monstrosities, with no counterpart in actual life. This 
was abundantly evident in his readings. Never were such readings ; 
he was one man sustaining three or four parts without scenery or 
costume, yet making the whole thing live before us, as they might 
have lived upon the dramatic stage. Those who spoke of his 
44 affectations ” did so unjustly; his mannerisms were no more 
affectations than the dialect of Carlyle or the stage voice and walk 
of Irving — they w r ere part and parcel of the man. Leigh Hunt 
said Dickens had life enough for fifty men, and this was no over- 
statement. He knew’ how* to touch the strings of laughter and of 
weeping (so near akin), to move us to boisterous merriment at will, 
or to quiet scorn, or the rush of sweet tears. He (the lecturer) 
did not know any English w riter w ho had touched higher excellence 
in burlesque, caricature, and pathos. Mr. Lilly read an extract 
or two in illustration of these three qualities, taking Sam Weller's 
story of the gentleman w r ho blew out his brains “ in support of his 
great principle as muffins was wholesome,” as a perfect type of the 
first-named quality. Coming in the end to a considered judgment 
of Dickens’s work, the lecturer held that his mission was to democ- 
ratise the novel. One of the great causes of his popularity was 
that he revealed the masses to the classes, and the masses to them- 
selves. Of the common people — “ the lower middles ” — he knew 
every detail of th£ir actions, thoughts, and speech. He w r as the 
first to reveal the depths of misery and degradation lying close 
around our own doors. Until wo read him we did not know the 
depths of pity in our own hearts. The masses themselves owed 
to him a perception of the value of imagination in common life ; 
he showei them the beauties of imagination. Their own wwld 
was transfigured by bis genius ; he was the Homer of the people. 
Finally, throughout the whole of his career he laboured incessantly 
for moral, social, and political reforms. And now, what would 



THE PRAISE OF DICKEN& 


335 


be his permanent place in English literature ? That question could 
not be definitely answered even yet. The";balance in which Time 
weighed the works of genius vibrated long before it came to an 
adjustment. Dickens was as numerously read and seemed as 
popular as ever amongst the masses, but with people of culture it 
was different. His works were not seen in the hands of young 
men at college — that was a significant fact, and a bad sign for the 
future. But yet the ethical sentiment which ran so persistently 
through Dickens might in the end cover a multitude of sins in taste. 
And in any case they must remember what Carlyle said of hifn — 
“ Every inch an Honest Man.” 

[Mr. Lilly’s lectures were afterwards published in book form by 
Mr. John Murray.] 

DAVID CHRISTIE MURRAY. 

A year or two ago we met suddenly a host of people who really 
couldn’t stand Dickens. Most of them (of course) were “ the people 
of whom crowds are made,” owning no sort of mental furniture 
worth exchange or purchase. They killed the fashion of despising 
Dickens as a fashion, and the Superior Person, finding that his 
sorrowful inability was no longer an exclusive thing, ceased to brag 
about it. In half a generation some of our superiors, for the mere 
sake of originality in judgment, will be going back to the pages of 
that immortal master — immortal as men count literary immortality 
— and will begin to tell us that after all there was really something 
in him. It was Mr. W. 1). Howells, an American writer of dis- 
tinguished ability, as times go, who set afloat the phrase that since 
the death of Thackeray and Dickens fiction lias become a finer art. 
If Mr. Howells had meant what many people supposed him to mean, 
the saying would have been merely impudent. He used the word 
“ liner ” in its literal sense, and meant only that a fashion of minute- 
ness in investigation and in style had come upon us. But the 
microscopist was never popular, and could never hope to be. He is 
dead now, and the younger men are giving us vigorous copies of 
Dumas, and Scott, and Edgar Allan Poe, and some of them are 
fusing the methods of Dickens with those of later and earlier writers. 
We are in for an era of broad effect again. 

With the solitary exception of Sir Walter Scott, it is probable 
that no man ever inspired such a host of imitators as Charles Dickens. 
There is not a writer of fiction at this hour, in any land where fiction 
is a recognised trade or art, who is not, whether ho knows it, and 
owns it, or no, largely inlluenced by Dickens. His method has gone 
into the atmosphere of fiction, as that of all really great writers 
must do, and wc might as well swear to unmix our oxygen and 
hydrogen as to stand clear of his influences. To stand clear of these 
influences you must stand apart from all modem thought and 
sentiment. You must have read nothing that has been written 
in the last sixty years, and you must have been bred on a desert 
Island. He is on a hundred thousand magisterial benches every 



336 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


day. There is not a hospital patient in any country who has not 
at this minute a right to thank God that Dickens lived. What 
his blessed and bountiful hand has done for the poor and oppressed, 
and them that had no helper, no man knows. Ho made charity 
and good-feeling a religion. Millions and millions of money have 
flowed from the coffers of the rich for the benefit of the poor because 
of his books. A great part of our daily life, and a good deal of the 
best of it, is of liis making. 

No single man ever made such opportunities for himself. No 
single man was ever so widely and permanently useful. No single 
man ever sowed gentleness and mercy with so broad a sweep. 

The chief fault the superficial modern critic has to find with 
Dickens is a sort of rumbustious boisterousness in the expression 
of emotion. But let one thing be pointed out, and let me point it 
out in my own fashion. Tom Hood, who was a true poet, and the 
best of our English wits, and probably as good a judge of good work 
as any person now’ alive, went home after meeting with Dickens, 
and in a playful enthusiasm told his wife to cut off his hand and 
bottle it, because it had shaken hands with “ Boz.” Lord Jeffrey, 
who w T as cold as a critic, cried over Little Nell. So did Sydney 
Smith, who was very far from being a blubbering sentimentalist. 

The new man says of Dickens that his sentiment rings false. 
This is a mistake. It rings old-fashioned. No false note ever 
moved a world, and the world combined to love his very name. 
There were real tears in thousands of households when he died, and 
they were as sincere and as real as if they had arisen at the loss of a 
personal friend. 

We, who in spite of fashion remain true to our allegiance to the 
magician of our youth, who can never worship or love another as 
we loved and worshipped him, are quite contented in the slight 
inevitable dimming of his fame. He is still in the hearts of the 
people, and there he has only one rival. — David Christie Murray, 
in My Contemporaries in Fiction . 

ROBERT BUCHANAN. 

What Dickens found in the dark streets of this City of London, 
Walt discovered everywhere in the many-coloured life of America; 
the spirit of natural Love and Sympathy filling every occupation 
with enchantment, and turning Earth into Wonderland. Whitman 
expressed in colossal cipher the same rudimentary Joy of Life, 
the same elemental passions and affections, which Dickens expressed 
in delightful Fairy Tales ; and in both one faith w f as supreme and 
dominant, faith in Man and in the divinity of Man’s human 
destiny. . . . Walt was a great poet and philosopher, Dickens was a 
great poet and Romancist, but both were close akin in that elemental 
faith of which I have spoken, and both were simple, lovable, child- 
like men — Dickens in spite of his popularity and waistcoats, Walt 
in spite of that florid diffusiveness which caused him to be christened 
by an English criticaster as “ the Jack Bunsby of Parnassus t ” — 
Robert Buchanan, in the Sunday Special , December 1899. 



THE PRAISE OF DICKENS. 


337 


GEOROE GIS3INO. 

“ More than a quarter of a century has now elapsed,’ * writes Mr. 
George Gissing in his Charles Dickens : a Critical Study , “ since the 
death of Charles Dickens. The time which shaped him and sent 
him forth is so far behind us as to have become a matter of historical 
study for the present generation ; the time which knew him as one 
of its foremost figures, and owed so much to the influences of his 
wondrous personality, is already made remote by a social revolution 
of which ho watched the mere beginning. It seems possible to 
regard Dickens from the standpoint of posterity ; to consider his 
career, to review his literary work, and to estimate his total activity 
in relation to an ago which, intelligibly speaking, is no longer our 
own.” Mr. Gissing’ s intention, as stated in his opening chapter, 
was to vindicate him [Dickens] against the familiar complaint that, 
however trustworthy his background, the figures designed upon it 
in general are mere forms of fantasy. On re-reading his works, it 
is not thus that Dickens’s characters on the whole impress me. 
With reserves which will appear in the course of my essay, I believe 
him to have been what he always claimed to be. a very accurate 
painter of the human beings no less than of the social conditions 
lie saw about him. Readers of Dickens who exclaim at the ‘ un- 
reality ’ of his characters (I do not here speak of his conduct of a 
story) will generally be found unacquainted with the English lower 
classes of to-day.” Mr. Gissing had a certain fitness for estimating 
Dickens’s work in this field, and among theso classes — “ a class (or 
classes),” as he says himself, “ characterised by dulness, prejudice,, 
dogged individuality, and manners, to say the least, unengaging.” 
For among them Mr. Gissing spent much of his lift, and they form 
not only the background of his own work, but the tigures projected 
upon it. 

Mr. George Gissing contributed a very interesting semi -auto- 
biographical article to the ‘ v Dickens Number ” of Literature , 
January 1902. In this essay Mr. Gissing tells us of the great in- 
fluence that Dickons had on his youthful imagination and on his 
development as a novelist. He was stirred “ not to imitate Dickens 
as a novelist, but to follow afar off his example as a worker.” Mr. 
Gissing’s account of his early life in London, more than twenty 
years ago, contains the following eloquent passage : “ It was a 
minor matter to me.” he writes. “ a point, by the way, that I had 
to find the means of keeping myself alive ; what I chiefly thought 
of was that now at length I could go hither or thither in London’s 
immensity seeking for the places which had been made known to 
me by Dickens. Previous short visits had eased my mind about 
the sights that everyone must sec ; I now had leisure to wander 
among the byways, making real to my vision what hitherto had been 
but names and insubstantial shapes. ... At times, when walking 
with other thoughts, I would come upon a discovery ; the name 
at a street corner would catch my eye and thrill me. Thus, one 
day in the City, I found myself at the entrance to Be vis Marks. I 
had just been making an application in answer to some advertise- 



338 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE, 


ment — of course, fruitlessly; but what was that disappointment 
compared with the discovery of Bevis Marks ! Here dwelt Mr. 
Brass, and Sally, and the Marchioness. Up and down the little 
street, this side and that, I went gazing and dreaming. ... I am 
not sure that I had any dinner that day, but, if not, I dare say I 
did not mind very much.” Perhaps few things would have more 
delighted Dickens than such a tribute to his power of giving a real 
life and a local habitation to the creations of his mind. 

MR. COMYNS CARR. 

Mr. J. Comyns Carr’s book, Some Eminent Victorian a contains 
the following noteworthy jottings : 

u I can remember now receiving from Charles Dickens, with 
a pain that was also blended with pleasure, a polite little note in 
blue ink returning one of my many rejected communications.” 

“ In romance his [Bunie Jones’s] task took a wide range, and 
it will surprise many, who see how rigorously all suggestion of 
humour is excluded from his paintings, to learn that his knowledge 
of Dickens was almost encyclopaedic, and his love of him, like that 
of Mr. Swinburne, without limit of praise.” 

“ Of literature, in the wider sense of the term, I never discovered 
that Whistler had any profound knowledge, though when he wanted 
a quotation to heighten the sarcasm of any biting senteneo it was 
happily chosen, and most often, strangely enough, such quota- 
tion would be taken from Dickens, whose humour strongly appealed 
to him.” 

“ Occasionally in walking home with him [Millais] from the club 
he would tell me something of the men he had known well in an 
earlier period of his life, but for the most part it was not especially 
of painters that he spoke. Talking in this way of Thackeray and 
Dickens, and other notabilities of their time, he remarked to me 
that 4 the greatest gentleman of them all was John Leech.’ ” 

“It is a singular fact, not I think generally recognised while they 
were both living, that there are many elements of resemblance in 
the features of Tennyson and Charles Dickens. I saw Dickens only 
once at a reading which he gave in St. James’s Hall, and I was then 
deeply impressed by the power exhibited in the upper part of the 
head. But it was not until I was looking one day at a beautiful 
pencil-drawing which Millais had made of Dickens after death 
that I perceived the striking resemblance between them — a resem- 
blance that was recognised by Tennyson himself, for while this v< ry 
drawing, now the property of Mrs. Perugini, was still in Millais** 
studio, Tennyson, after he had gazed at it for some time, suddenly 
exclaimed, 4 This is a most extraordinary drawing. It is exactly 
like myself ! ’ ” 

MB. THEODORE WATTS- DUNTON. 

In an article entitled “ Dickens and Father Christmas,” in the 
Nineleenlh Century tor December 1907, Mr. Theodore Watts- Dunton 
made a “ Yule-Tide Appeal for the Babes of Famine Street,” anti 



339 


THE PRAISE OF DICKENS. 

at the same time gave an interesting reminiscence of the day of 
Dickens’s death. 

44 On that never-to-be-forgotten summer day,” he wrote, “ when 
London was robbed of Charles Dickens, I was walking disconsolately 
down Drury Lane, when I heard a girl with a shawl over her head, 
standing at the comer of one of the side streets and talking to a 
companion, exclaim, ‘ Dickens dead ? Then will Father Christmas 
die too ? ’ My feet were arrested, and I turned and looked at the 
speaker. I saw at once what was her line of life. She was one of 
those 4 barrow -girls ’ who rise long before daybreak and go with 
their husbands, or their young men, to Covent Garden Market, and, 
getting there as early as four o’clock in the morning, wait while the 
men make their bargains with the market gardeners, and afterwards 
aid them in selling the purchases in the London streets.” Thus, 
then, Dickens had become 44 a myth of the people ” before his death. 
It is probable that this girl had never read the Christmas Books. 

Upon this text, “ Dickens dead ? Then will Father Christmas 
die too ? ” Mr. Watts-Dunton wrote the following sonnet, which 
was published in the Athcnceam with the title, 44 Dickens Returns 
on Christmas Day ” : 

* Dickens is dead!’ Beneath that grievous cry 
Jiondon seemed shivering in the summer heat ; 

Strangers took up tho tale liko friends that meet: 

4 Dickens is dead ! ’ said they, and hurried by ; 

Street children stopped their games — they knew not why. 

But some new night seemed darkening down the street. 

A girl in rags, staying her way-worn feet, 

Cried ‘Dickons dead? Will Father Christmas die?’ 

City he loved, take courage on thy way! 
lie loves thee still, in ail thy joys and fears. 

Though ho whose smile made bright thine eyes of grey — 
Though he whose voice, uttering thy burthened years, 

Made laughters bubble through thy sea of tears — 

Is gone, Dickens returns on Christmas Day!” 

The author points out that, the girl w as not “ ragged ; ” he used the 
word with poetic licence. Having the temerity to show r his work 
to her, she exclaimed : 44 Why the deuce didn't you say 4 barrer 
gal ? ’ Was it becauso a 4 ragged gal ’ is more genteel than a 
barrer gal without rags ? ” Explanations merely drew* forth the 
reply, 41 Poets must be rum blokes, seems to me.” 

MR. ANDREW LANO. 

A man may not like Sophocles, may speak disrespectfully of 
Virgil, and even sneer at Herodotus, and yet may be endured. 
But he or she (it is usually she) who contemns Scott, and 44 cannot 
read Dickens,” is a person with whom I would fain have no further 
converse. If she be a lady, and if one meets her at dinner, she 
must of course be borne with, and 44 suffered gladly.” But she 
has dug a gulf that nothing can bridge ; she may bo fair, clever. 



340 


DICKENS IN ANECDOTE. 


and popular, but she is Anathema. I feel towards her (or him if he 
wears a beard) as Bucldaw did towards the person who should 
make inquiries about that bridal night of Lammermoor. 

Of all great writers since Scott, Dickens is probably the man 
to whom the world owes most gratitude. No other has caused 
so many sad hearts to be lifted up in laughter ; no other has added 
so much mirth to the toilsome and perplexed life of men, of poor 
and rich, of learned and unlearned. “ A vast hope has passed 
across the world,” says Alfred de Musset ; we may say that with 
Dickens a happy smile, a joyous laugh, went round this earth. To 
have made us laugh so frequently, so inextinguishably, so kindly 
— that is his great good deed. It will be said, and with a great deal 
of truth, that he has purged us with pity and terror as well as with 
laughter. But it is becoming plain that his command of tears is 
less assured than of old, and I cannot honestly regret that some 
of his pathos — not all, by any means — is losing its charm and its 
certainty of appeal. Dickens's humour was rarely too obvious ; 
it was essentially personal, original, quaint, unexpected, and his 
own. His pathos was not infrequently derived from sources 
open to all the world, and capable of being drawn from by very 
commonplace writers. 

There never was such another as Charles Dickens, nor shall we see 
his like sooner than the like of Shakespeare. And he owed all to 
native genius and hard work; he owed almost nothing to litera- 
ture, and that little we regret. — Andrew Lang, in Essays in Little 
(London : Henry & Co., 1891). 

MR. JEROME K. JEROME. 

I find, on examination, that my David Coy per field is more dilapi- 
dated than any other novel upon my shelves. As I turn its dog- 
cared pages, reading the familiar headlines : “ .Mr. Micawbor in 

difficulties,’ ’ “ Mr. Mieawber in prison,” “ I fall in love with Dora,” 
“Mr. Barkis goes out with the tide/’ “ My child-wife/’ Traddles 
in a nest of roses ” — pages of my own life recur to me; so many 
of my sorrows, so many of my joys are woven in my mind with this 
chapter or the other. . . . Old friends, all of you, how many times 
have I not slipped away from my worries into your pleasant company ! 
Peggotty, you dear soul, the sight of your kind eyes is so good to me ! 
Our mutual friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, is prone, \yo know, just 
ever so slightly to gush. Good fellow that he is, ho can see no flaw 
in those he loves, but you, dear lady, if you will permit me to call 
you by a name much abused, he has drawn in true colours. I know 
you well, with your big heart, your quick temper, your homely, 
human ways of thought. You yourself will never guess your 
worth — how much the world is better for such as you ! ... Mr. 
Wilkins Micaw r ber, and you, most excellent of faithful wives, Mrs. 
Emma Mieawber, to you I also i*aise my hat. How often has the 
example of your philosophy saved me, when I, likewise, have suffered 
under the temporary pressure of pecuniary liabilities ; when the 
cun of my prosperity, too, has sunk beneath the dark horizon of the 



THE PRAISE OF DICKENS. 


341 


world — in short, when I, also, have found myself in a tight comer 
I have asked myself what would the Micawbers have done in my 
place. And I have answered myself. They would have sat down 
to a dish of lamb’s fry, cooked and breaded by the deft hands of 
Emma, followed by a brew of punch, concocted by the beaming 
Wilkins, and have forgotten all their troubles, for the time being. 
Whereupon, seeing first that sufficient small change was in my 
pocket, I have entered the nearest restaurant, and have treated 
myself to a repast of such sumptuousness as the aforesaid small 
change would command, emerging from that restaurant stronger and 
more fit for battle. And lo ! the sun of my prosperity has peeped 
at me from over the clouds with a sly wink, as if to say, “ Cheer up, 
I am only round the corner.” 

Dickens suffered from too little of what some of us have too much 
of— criticism. Ilis work met with too little resistance to call forth 
his powers. Too often his pathos sinks to bathos, and this not from 
want of skill, but from want of care. It is difficult to believe that 
the popular writer who allowed his sentimentality — or rather the 
public's sentimentality — to run away with him in such scenes as